For weeks I watched the deep hole being dug along West Jefferson Boulevard where a Richard’s restaurant used to sit. What emerged was a gray box with cool blue highlights and a logo announcing the name Umi – Japanese for ocean.
Settling into our comfortable seats, we perused both a tableside tablet and regular printed menu. Personally, I don’t like tablets in restaurants; I want to place my order with a person, not a device. But Umi’s tableside tablet was just a guide to give us a peek at each dish. Our server promptly arrived to help me set aside my worries of having to order online. She was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and helped us navigate the choices before us.
The lobster scallop cakes seemed like a decadent starter. Four cakes were pan-seared just like traditional crab cakes. They were still very hot when they arrived at the table. The seafood was flaky on the inside with a pleasing crispy texture on the outside. The meat in these little gems was sweet and delicious, but very rich.
I really liked Umi’s house salad. Organic greens, crisp carrot slices, and cucumber were dressed in a light and refreshing Miso dressing. This was a nice change from the usual ginger dressing on salads in most Japanese restaurants.
We tried two different sushis: the Dr. Singh Special and the Doc G. Roll.
The Dr. Singh Special was a shrimp tempura roll that was covered with a trio of seafoods: shrimp, crab and lobster claw. The mango fruit was fresh and complemented the seafood perfectly. It also helped balance the punch of the spicy chili oil. Something else to keep in mind with this dish is that the full portion is very large. It can easily be shared or taken home for a few more meals.
If you like crab rangoon, you’ll love Umi’s Doc G. Roll. This sushi roll of warm cream cheese and crab was fried tempura style. The roll was topped with a nest of fried crab, mayonnaise and unagi sauce (a sweet sauce made with mirin, soy sauce, sugar and sometimes sake). This was excellent and felt like the Japanese version of comfort food.
Both sushi rolls were good, but we preferred the Doc.G. Roll.
The chicken teriyaki bento box had great flavors but seemed a little skimpy on the items. I suggest they bolster this dish, since there are two other Japanese restaurants less than a mile away that offer much cheaper bento boxes. Add a little more chicken and another shrimp tempura and it will be perfect.
For dessert, Umi’s jelly roll cake with red bean ice cream was wonderful. The ice cream was very creamy and the sponge cake was light with a fluffy filling. That dessert disappeared quickly.
My green tea ice cream looked appetizing, but I didn’t enjoy it. The texture was creamy, but there was a bitter aftertaste. Next time, I’ll order the jelly roll cake.
My lunch buddy introduced me to mochi - made with a very glutinous, starchy rice, rolled into small balls and filled with ice cream. I enjoyed the ice cream, but I’m still undecided on the texture. It felt like partially set gelatin.
Umi is a welcome addition to the Japanese cuisine scene as well as Fort Wayne’s upscale dining menu. A few tweaks will take it over the top.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 461-8468.
Where: 2912 Getz Road
Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; Closed Sunday
* Miso soup: $3.50
* Umi house salad: $3.75
* Lobster scallop cakes appetizer: $13
* Umi seafood salad: $12 lunch; $12.95 dinner
* Vegetable udon: $10 lunch; $11.95
* Fried rice: $11
* Chicken teriyaki bento box: $14 lunch; $21.95 dinner
* Dr. Singh’s Special sushi: $31
* Mochi ice cream: $3.50
* Green tea ice cream: $3.95