By Emma Silverthorn, @HouseOf_Gazelle
Don’t go to Umami for the ambience – the restaurant is on the first floor of a Crowne Plaza Hotel – and though ‘Smooth Jazz’ was advertised, the music sounded more like muzak to me. The décor is certainly aiming for stylish contemporary but could be better described as corny. And on the Friday night that we went the hotel had been taken over by a loud wedding party, so drunken guests provided the night’s entertainment. Bluntly: the Umami environment is neither trendy, nor luxurious. The staff were exceptionally friendly, however, so this did add some warmth to the night, making up for what the space itself lacked.
Aside from habitat, the kitchen does offer a surprisingly authentic taste of Pan-Asian, (ignoring the fact that authentic Pan-Asian is itself an oxymoron). Dishes hail from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. For starters Umami served us some of the best Dhal I’ve ever had and, as a vegan, I eat Dhal once a week or more so this is saying something. Followed by a very good version of a classic Thai Yellow Curry for main and sides of nourishing Garlic and yellow bean Pak Choi. My partner had the Beef Rendang and, under no duress from me, preferred the vegetarian option. The dishes here aren’t massively experimental but they are of a high calibre. It was all washed down with a decent, though not spectacular, Beaujolais.
Not date-night or special occasion material, but if you’re in Chelsea Umami is good for a mid-range bite that caters well for vegans and the dairy free, as well as fans of anything ‘Asian’.
Umami is located at 100 Cromwell Rd, London SW7 4ER.