Review on Umu
Billed as Britain's first Kyoto-style restaurant, Umu (the name means 'born of nature') specialises in high-art 'kaiseki' - ultra-formal, refined, meticulously choreographed dining that is as much about harmonius ritual as cuisine. It may be unique, but it's also one of the world's most expensive ways to eat: if you want the full-on Umu experience (including wine), it will cost you upwards of £250 a head!
The location for all of this is an eerily anonymous-looking building down a Mayfair side street. To gain entrance you need to operate the palm-operated security pad. Once inside, however, it's a very different world, thanks to cutting-edge design from Taipei-born designer Tony Chi: lush, lavish and indulgent come to mind.
Executive chef Ichiro Kubota has Kyoto in his blood and he has put together a menu that splits up kaiseki into its core components. Among the star turns are sweet shrimp in saké jelly with caviar; a little dish of simmered mackerel with brown miso; grilled tuna teriyaki with sour yuzu, mooli and wasabi dressing, and a dessert of black sesame mousse with black sugar sorbet.
Of course, you can either make up your own banquet or go for broke with one of the fully composed deals. In addition, the kitchen offers classic and new-age (warm) sushi and sashimi including heavenly chu toro (middle-cut tuna belly), langoustines and sea bream.
Umu has a remarkable collection of 70 premium-label sakés, as well as a monumental 300-strong wine list with stratospheric price tags.
Restaurant Opening Times
Lunch: 12.00 - 2.30pm Mon-Sat
Dinner: 6.00 - 11.00pm Mon-Sat
Accepted credit cards
Visa, Master Card, American Express