Don’t you just love it when you’re really really craving stir fry and you put it out into the universe (aka a whatsapp group) and it answers immediately with an impromptu Monday evening meal at a swanky halal Pan-Asian restaurant – Umami
The restaurant is just a short walk away from Gloucester Road station and located on the first floor of a Crowne Plaza Hotel. Before visiting, I wasn’t actually aware of this so when we arrived and were seated with no one else in the restaurant, I thought we were placed away from other people on purpose because I could hear lots of hustle and bustle in what I now know is the hotel lobby. Not a problem at all though and being practically in the hotel doesn’t really affect the dining experience at all.
The decor is what I would describe as “comfortable contemporary” which isn’t necessarily my kind of style but for this place, it works. There’s plenty of comfortable seating and there is enough space for the restaurant to be completely full and not feel cramped. Since we had run of the restaurant, my friend and I chose a weird booth where we sat beside each, other facing on to the other (non-existent lol) diners. I would imagine when it’s really busy, it might get a little bit awkward facing all the other people. Especially if you’re waiting for your food and watching them eat lol.
I won’t complain about lack of condiments on the table as it’s a fancy place but the tables come with proper chopsticks (not the wooden kind you get at Wagamama) and normal cutlery too. That means those of us who are chopstick-lly challenged don’t have to do the awkward beckoning of the waiter to ask for a fork. Plus as soon as our food came, the waitress asked if we wanted chilli sauce. BIG thumbs up.
The menu is made of dishes hailing from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Pan-Asian at it’s finest really.
For starters we ordered Roti Canai (Malaysian) which is a delightful buttery & flaky traditional flatbread, served with an Indian lentil dipping dhal. If you’re Indian like me, it’s basically paratha with Dhal to dip it in.
Although this wasn’t my choice of food, I gave it taste any way and I have to say I was impressed. The dhal tasted just as good as it does at home and the paratha’s had been made exceptionally well.
I think my favourite was definitely the noodles. For someone who generally doesn’t opt for noodles (they’re wayyy too messy to eat out in public!) I sure did enjoy these.
We also ordered Nasi Goreng ( Singaporean) – a Wok fried rice in mild spices served with a skewer of chicken satay, Gai Yang (chef’s recommendation) a street style grilled chicken leg marinated with Asian spices served with Asian style coleslaw,
along with Wok Fried Pad Thai noodles.
I love it when restaurants are clear on their website that their food is halal and Umami does exactly that. The staff were also happy to confirm their halal status.
All of the dishes tasted really good. The flavours worked really well together and the portions were a good size. Although I really enjoyed the Nasi Goreng, I would have liked a sauce to accompany the dish. That would be my only very small criticism, everything else was just banging. I loved the noodles the most and the Gai Yeng chicken was more flavoursome than I had actually expected.
Despite being halal, the one thing I found slightly disheartening was that the menu doesnt feature any soft drinks on there. Luckily the waitress was really helpful and was more than happy to go get the bar menu for us. They do in fact have soft drinks, all sorts of juices and lots of different teas.
After dinner, we decided that we would both get the ‘Spearmint Green‘ tea which is – the finest gunpowder green tea blended with pure spearmint and pure peppermint for a refreshing cup. I loved that it came in a cute teapot with a matching South East Asian style cup.
Although Umami is based in Chelsea, it was nice to see that they didn’t overdo it with the prices. The restaurant is up-market yet affordable.
All in all, the menu isn’t massively experimental but it’s clear that all of the dishes are of a high calibre. I loved it.
Would I go again? If I was ever in the mood for Pan-Asian food then definitely.
Would I recommend it? Yes! One of very few decent Pan-Asian restaurants.