This newly opened Japanese restaurant on Hollywood Road serves Edomae-style sushi and seats only 10.
Words Tiffany Chan
Blink and you might miss UMI, a sliver of space tucked away next to French restaurant Bibo on Hollywood Road. To call it intimate would be an understatement – the narrow room seats only 10 diners at a seven-metre hinoki wood table, over which hang the pink and white flowers of an orchid tree that is suspended upside down from the ceiling. There is a quality of stillness rarely experienced in Central, the only sounds come from master sushi chef Yukio Kimijima filleting fish with broad, elegant strokes, and his sous chef grating wasabi in swift, circular motions.
Kimijima is a fourth-generation sushi chef specialising in Edomae sushi. There is only one omakase menu ($1,588) available, which includes three or four appetisers, five to 14 pieces of sushi, a uni handroll, soup and dessert. Kimijima instructs his guests to eat the sushi with two fingers, and to eat it quickly – “five seconds only”. He incorporates a fair amount of air into his rice, which makes it loose and nearly impossible to eat with chopsticks.
We start with truffle rice. It’s aromatic, but gently so, and we’re grateful that the truffle isn’t the only thing we can taste. The vinegar in the rice balances it nicely and whets our appetite. The sushi courses proceed from light to strong in flavour, starting with lighter and leaner fish, sayori and kohada (gizzard shad). Kohada, which Kimijima says is not particularly popular with Hong Kong diners, is small and fishy, but the addition of shiso keeps it nuanced and balanced. Kinki is torched to bring out the fish’s natural oils, then topped with shaved yuzu, Himalayan pink salt and a pinch of caviar. It’s quite fatty, but the use of lime balances it perfectly. Kimijima serves three cuts of maguro – akami, chu-toro and o-toro – which melt in the mouth and satisfy our tuna cravings.
Chef Kimijima is sociable and explains his courses with care, without being imposing or intrusive. It’s not cheap, but the courses are thoughtfully planned and delivered with exquisite detail. The privacy, too, ensures you’ll be well taken care of.
Spending: $1,588 + 10% per person
Highlights: the menu is seasonal and changes regularly, but at the time of our visit, the truffle rice and torched kinki stood out
What else: only two dinner seatings (6:30pm and 8:30pm) are available, and don’t be late
159-163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Tel: 2956 3177