Opened by the Le Comptoir Group, which merges good food with stunning spaces in restaurants such as Bibo in Sheung Wan and TRi and The Ocean in Repulse Bay, this 10-seat sushi counter aims to recreate the flavours and ambience of a traditional edomae sushi restaurant in Japan. And it succeeds.
At first glance, the intimate space is impressive. The elegant sushi counter was made from a single seven-metre-long piece of Hinoki wood, and the iconic conoid chairs were crafted by Japanese-American woodworker George Nakashima. There’s one beautiful statement showpiece toward the end of the counter, but we’ve promised to keep it a secret (we’ll give you a hint: it involves orchids).
The Omakase Menu
There is but one omakase menu – dinner only (two seatings: 6:30pm and 8:30pm) – at UMI, which is priced at $1,588 per person for 16 courses, including 10 pieces of nigiri. The sushi selection changes regularly (even daily) based on what’s fresh and in season, with all the seafood flown in daily from Japan. The master behind the counter is the affable Yukio Kimijima, a fourth-generation sushi chef from Tokyo who has worked in Hong Kong for almost two decades at such notable Japanese restaurants as Zuma and Sushi Take.
Chef Yukio Kimijima
To whet our appetite, we were presented with a bowl of Japanese rice scented with French black truffle, with additional truffle shaved generously over the top upon serving. Attention to detail is important to Chef Kimijima, and temperature is a major focus: the rice used is room temperature, and the fish is stored not in an icebox but instead in a Hinoki wood container, which keeps it at the optimal temperature for taste and texture.
Of the three appetisers sampled, we enjoyed the hirame (halibut) sashimi the most. This delicate fish had been marinated in plum juice, complementing the fish’s natural sweetness. It was topped with a sprinkling of edible flowers that were (almost) too pretty too eat.
The nigiri followed, served from light to heavy in flavour profile, accompanied by pungent but not overpowering freshly grated wasabi root and pickled ginger. As instructed, we ate each piece with our hands within seconds, adding to the authentic experience. Our favourites were the kuruma ebi (Japanese tiger prawn) with its firm flesh and rich sweetness, the hiramasa (kingfish), which was lightly seared with soy and lime, a great match for the fish’s delicious, oily butteriness, and the akami – the thinnest cut of toro (tuna), this is the bright red cut that is usually overshadowed by the fattier cuts of chutoro and otoro. At UMI, the lightness of the akami was a revelation. Overall Chef Kimijima is bold with his sauce choices – for example, the kinki was dressed with a zesty combination of (freshly grated) Himalayan pink sea salt, lime and yuzu. There is definitely no need for extra soy for dunking.
Hirame (halibut) sushi
Kawahagi (thread-sail filefish) sushi
A handroll bursting with creamy, sweet-yet-briny uni (sea urchin) came next, along with a umami-rich miso soup crowned with a big, fat clam. Dessert came in the form of mochi filled with strawberry and red bean (the filling changes seasonally) alongside some addictive cubes of homemade matcha chocolate.
We truly enjoyed our dining experience at UMI and think this would be a fine choice for a celebratory meal with fellow sushi aficionado. Because of its ethos and location, the restaurant will inevitably be compared to its three-Michelin-starred neighbour Sushi Shikon (where the single omakase menu is double the cost). UMI may not have the star power of Sushi Shikon or the impeccable deftness of hand of Masahiro Yoshitake, but it’s still a formidable sushi counter in its own right.
159–163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2956 3177
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.