It has been quite awhile since I had been to Umai. More than likely its been almost two years. The reason being that I had two disappointing experiences there. The food was mostly good but one time we got some very very very bad mussels. Both times we received less than mediocre service.
However, some of my best friends love Umai & always sing its praises. So maybe things have changed I thought. Last night I was craving sushi in a bad bad way. It was as if I would shrivel up & die if I didn't get some fresh raw fish. I've been told that Ken Lumpkin (chef-owner at Umai) not only sources some of the best fish in town but is also a master at what to do or rather not do to it. I badgered Max & Marlinee into coming along with me which didn't take much talking into since they love Umai & love Ken.
We sat down in the very minuscule dining room (I love a small dining room, it just feels intimate) & ordered Morimoto Soba Ales for Max & I. Max suggested that we just have Ken put out sushi for us as opposed to order off the menu. I'm down for anything most days so I agreed. While we were waiting he explained that Ken sources from the same fish purveyors as Masaharu Morimoto so I was even more impressed & excited!
Regardless of whether or not its true about his sources all thoughts of that were immediately forgotten when our two large sushi platters were brought to the table. Of course in my state of fish euphoria I neglected to take pictures. Foolish I know. Anyway, the sushi was absolutely beautiful to gaze at. Perfectly arranged & displaying an obviousness as to Ken's exquisite knife skills.
The barracuda sashimi was meaty, oily, a little smoky & with a perfect brininess to it. Never had anything like it before. The parrot fish was like eating a silken cloud. It wasn't about flavor so much as texture. Creamy, luscious & melt in the mouth.
Ken is a sushi master for sure & I will return as soon as I can. If you are a sushi fan & anywhere near Memphis you absolutely must go to Umai.