Nestled in amongst the hustle and bustle of Haymarket and located just a 5-minute walk from Central Station, Umi Sushi and Bar captures the eyes of many curious passers-by.
The 8-metre long fish tank grabs their attention, before they move on to admire the well-stocked bar – packed to the ceiling with bottles of sake, shochu, Japanese whiskys and other popular spirits. As they gaze further into the restaurant, they see classic sushi dishes emerge from the kitchen, followed by more dramatic culinary displays like steaming Lobster and Sashimi boats, platters of live seafood, and hotpots accompanied by plates loaded with vegetables and thin slices of wagyu for Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu.
Needless to say, the relaunched Umi Sushi and Bar in Haymarket is perfect for those wanting Japanese cuisine presented with a little extra flair.
We started our night with two cocktails from the restaurant’s impressive drinks menu. The Pretty Geisha and the Yuzu Mojito are probably polar opposites on the cocktail list, and yet both were enjoyed thoroughly. The Pretty Geisha was a sweet, sugary drink, while the Mojito was very fruity and heavy on citrus. It gave us a good sense of the variety offered at Umi Sushi – variety which is by no means limited to their drinks menu.
Browsing the food menu, displayed electronically in a tablet and propped up conveniently at the end of the table, was pleasantly overwhelming. There is so much to choose from, and narrowing it down is only made more difficult by the tantalising photographs that accompany the food descriptions. I was eager to try a lot of Umi Sushi’s signature dishes and was grateful for the spread the restaurant prepared for us.
We began with the Japanese Omelette, which was beautifully fluffy and had a lovely sweetness in its centre. This was followed by the Flame-Grilled Cheese Scallops which were one of my favourites of the night. The cheese had a beautiful richness to it that worked so well served warm with the scallops. We also tried the Sting Ray Fin, which I’ve never had before and was interested in sampling. We were given a little grill as well to heat up the fins as they can get quite tough if not served warm. It was quite chewy and the flavour wasn’t altogether unpleasant. Ultimately, I’m happy to add it to the list of more exotic foods I’ve tried.
For those brave enough, Umi Sushi also offers live seafood barbeques. Your options include crabs, oysters, turban shells (snail), abalone, pipis, lobsters and a few others. When I was younger I wanted to be a vet, so I declined the offer but I’m certain there are many people out there with stronger stomachs than my own who would thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of it.
Without a doubt though, Umi Sushi’s Sashimi Boat offers one spectacle that everyone can enjoy and be in awe of. The boat itself was beautifully crafted, and was adorned with a colourful display of fresh sashimi, oysters and octopus. The presentation became truly memorable, however, when the waiter poured boiling water over a layer of ice covering the boat. The steam worked its magic and transformed the arrangement into something breathtaking. It makes for something a little extra special to witness at your dinner table.
Umi Sushi also delivers well for the meat-lovers. We tried their Ox Tongue (perfectly pink in the centre), as well as the Chargrilled Tsukune (chicken meatball), Chicken Skin and Wagyu skewers.
But I’ve never had hotpot before, so I was super excited to be able to try their Sukiyaki Hotpot. For those who’ve never tried it, thin slices of wagyu and vegetables are cooked in a skillet-style hotpot with a rich sauce (mainly soy sauce and sugar) and served with a side of raw egg. The flavour is quite heavy but very delicious. I’m definitely eager to go back for this again.
As for dessert, we had a gorgeous platter of Black Sesame Ice Cream, Matcha Ice Cream, Matcha Fondant and Japanese Cheesecake. The cake had the perfect balance of fluffiness and cheesiness that is a signature of Japanese-style cheesecakes and the fondant simply oozed its melted green tea centre. I’m also obsessed with black sesame ice cream so as far as desserts go, Umi Sushi pretty much catered for all my favourite Asian desserts on a single plate.
Umi Sushi and Bar definitely offers a unique and exotic dining experience for those seeking it. And for those after something a little more tame on their plate, this is offered as well – to a high standard. Regardless of how adventurous you’re feeling, Umi Sushi seems to have all the bases covered: convenient location, fun cocktails and Japanese sake, classic Japanese dishes, exotic Japanese dishes, beautiful presentation and a pleasant restaurant setting.
It’s also worth noting that Umi Sushi and Bar now offers private function karaoke rooms for big groups and special occasions. They seem to have thought of everything with this relaunch. Definitely worth checking out!
Umi Sushi and Bar
Shop 1 and 2, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9281 2006
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Umi Sushi and Bar.