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Umami: the fifth taste

Umami: the fifth taste

Photographer:Fotograaf: Kate Surala

Work like a slave, eat like a king

Waiting for a late train on a wet, foggy afternoon is not a pleasant experience. So I decided to delay my trip and enjoy lunch at Umami, the place I cycle past every day and wonder what is hidden behind those large windows. I was surprised to discover black wooden walls, a light, shiny floor and an arched bamboo bridge on the ceiling supporting numerous silver lamps.
Umami by Han can accommodate up to a hundred guests in a very modern interior with an Asian twist. A chain restaurant located in numerous Dutch cities, it offers a set menu for lunch and dinner as well as a la carte. Umami’s mission is to make you enjoy fusion Asian–French cuisine. Each course consists of two small dishes prepared in Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian or Vietnamese fashion with a Western touch, in order to create umami – the ‘fifth taste’ besides sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
From a wide range of dishes, I settled on peanut chicken and mango prawns for my first course and orange duck and cucumber salmon for the second. The chicken had been boiled only briefly in water with no salt, then covered with fresh peanut sauce and crispy fried onion. It was not my favourite meal; I prefer chicken that is baked or fried for a juicier texture. That said, the combination of flavours from the two dishes in the first course was inspiring. Next up was the duck breast covered in crispy breadcrumbs, with a fresh orange sauce and side of carrot puree and pieces of lychee. The composition of fifty shades of orange turned out to be exceptionally tasty. But the best dish of all was a piece of salmon dipped in a cucumber sauce and garnished with small circles of freshly blended mango gel. It was served with puffed rice in a stylish porcelain bowl. The salmon was so perfectly done that it fell apart in your mouth, adding an interesting cucumber taste in the background.
The waitress was very pleasant and presented our courses with great attention to detail. The service was fast, although it must be said that they had few patrons to deal with. As it is quite expensive, I would recommend Umami for special occasions – and if you’re a big eater, be sure to order the three-course menu.

Kate Surala

-> Umami by Han, Stationsstraat 12, http://umami-restaurant.com/filialen-impressie/umami-maastricht/

 

My menu

 

2-course menu

 €15.95

Ginger ale

 €2.50

 

 

 

 

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