Friday, March 25, 2011


I was excited when a friend suggested we try out this relatively new Madison restaurant most because I haven't really given Japanese restaurants in Madison a chance and this one did boast Japanese authenticity. Umami did not disappoint. Although, it's difficult to find because it looks like a house, is set back from the street, and the sign is tiny, the ambiance and food makes up for the confusion it caused me.

Essentially, the menu boasts dumplings and ramen and in fact, I believe they call themselves a dumpling and ramen bar. But we did start with edamame because I'm incapable of not ordering edamame when offered. Anyway, on to dinner. Admittedly, I am anti-ramen after too many salty (yet cheap) dinners in college and life on a much smaller budget (not to mention a less refined palette). So I went with the dumplings. My co-diner went ramen and I know now that ramen does not have to come in a 5 cent orange package. It was served in a beautiful wooden bowl and smelled amazing! Options included meat and non meat with optional toppings (such as pork belly which I'm sorry, sounds terrible but is probably great). My dumplings were devoured quickly- a little pork, some veggies, and pan seared with a sweet soy dipping sauce. Dumplings for dinner! A success! I wondered at first if I would want more variety on my plate but it didn't turn out that way. The flavor was rich and distinct and I enjoyed each dumpling better than the last.

The fact that this restaurant is a renovated house helped make the experience all that more enjoyable. The owners describe it as "hip, not pretentious" and I'm inclined to agree. It feels modern and sleek but also inviting and well, hip. I think they nailed that one.

I am definitely going back to Umami for more ramen and dumplings and anything else they'd like to serve me. I like the simplicity of the menu and the food even though it does provide my entire sodium intake for the day.

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