Whilst largely unknown in Western cuisine, umami challenges global perceptions of the four recognised taste profiles: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. For centuries, the Japanese have described a ‘fifth taste’, renowned for its genuine savoury, robust and meaty flavours. Identified as 'umami', the name is taken from the word uma’i in Japanese, which means ‘delicious’.
This summer, aqua has unveiled five contemporary and creative dishes that showcase the fifth taste by using rare and seasonal ingredients from regions of Japan such as Hokkaido and Hamamatsu.
Guests can experience the true taste of umami with the aptly named Touch Mi, Taste Mi, Feel Mi ($198) – a courgette flower filled with scallop and prawn laced with umami-rich dashi (a fish stock). The delicate flavour of the prawn and scallop is heightened with the addition of the dashi soup, with its distinct kombu seaweed and bonito flakes.
The fifth taste can also be explored through the alluring cocktail Umami Mi ($188) – Parmesan-infused gin blended with pineapple, rhubarb, fresh lime and marmalade. The Parmesan grips the mouth with an exotic tang; this Italian cheese is the closest match in Western cuisine to the taste of umami.
The innovative dishes continue with A Matter of Taste ($148) – seared scallop and eel kabayaki over sesame purée, where the combination of the rich eel with the nutty sesame exudes umami.
Capture Mi ($888) – A5 Miyazaki Wagyu served with an intense truffle miso and almond butter soy glaze – does not disappoint. The profoundness of the truffle combined with the earthy miso and sweet soy bring out the rich complexities of the Waygu.
Maximising the senses and guiding guests on how to truly unmask the elusive fifth taste, the Discover Umami menu at aqua comes with the option of a taste profiling experience. This involves an exploratory introduction using different Japanese ingredients to help to unleash the sensory secrets of the palate, followed by a blindfolded tasting – guided by an aqua ‘sense-pert’ – to discover the true essence of umami in the five new dishes. This once-in-a-lifetime epicurean opportunity is available in the private dining room for up to 12 guests at either aqua or Armani/aqua, with the price available on request.
29/F and 30/F, 1 Peking Road, TST, 3427 2288
2/F, Landmark Chater, 8 Connaught Road Central, Central, 3583 2828