Umi mixes food with art
Umi, the new restaurant located adjacent to the Greyhound and Fred Bus Station, has a very simple and unassuming exterior. Those who drive up and down Jefferson Davis Highway would be surprised if they knew just how delicious the cuisine is at this Japanese restaurant.
My roommate and I decided to try out this new restaurant, so conveniently close to the college, in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday. There were a few people waiting to pick up take-out orders, but we were the only diners. The chefs and wait staff were so friendly and welcoming to us that we felt at home within moments of walking in.
Jonathan Chen and Sony Gao just moved to Fredericksburg from New York City. They have a Umi restaurant in North Carolina, and just opened this location three months ago.
They are both from China but enjoy preparing Japanese cuisine. Sony Gao likes making sushi because of its art form. He also enjoys preparing seafood, “I grew up on the islands and have always enjoyed cooking fish”.
We ordered Miso Soup as an appetizer, and it was extremely tasty. Not too heavy and with just the right amount of tofu blocks (unlike some restaurants which short change you with the pieces of tofu).
They then brought out a beautiful spicy crab salad, which is the most popular on their salad list. The salad was bright and had ample amounts of crabmeat and cost only $5.
Next they brought us “shumai”, which is under their hot appetizer list. It contains steamed pork with a cherry tomato and barley garnish. The sauce that you dip the “shumai” in looks like soy sauce but has a lighter taste to it. It does not overpower the appetizer at all, just provides a soft flavor to accompany the pork.
The soft shell crab (hot appetizer) was deep fried with a ponzu sauce. Again, the sauce did not overpower the appetizer but simply enhanced the taste of the soft shell crab. The appetizer, too, had a cherry tomato and barley garnish that gave the light colored crab some bright color to it. Unlike some fried foods, this appetizer left you wanting more!
The Chef’s Special Rolls includes an absolutely breathtaking Spider Web Roll. These entrees are little pricey and almost too beautiful to eat. It consists of soft shell crab, mango, spicy tuna, and tobiko, with a special sauce. Around the pieces of sushi, the chef’s created a spider web with different colors of drizzled sauces. An orchid is laid on top of the sushi to produce an intense colorful effect.
The chefs were generous enough to prepare one of their main entrées for us, the Chilean sea bass. The steamed sea bass fillet with ginger, scallions and mixed vegetables in black bean sauce was incredible. Along with a small bowl of rice, this entrée is enough to satisfy anyone with a large appetite. The vegetables were the perfect consistency and were not soggy because of the sauce.
Our last treat was the lobster special, which is not on the menu. It was lobster sushi with a delicious sweet, cream-like sauce drizzled on top of the sushi and around it. Extremely tasty and presented beautifully.
Unfortunately for us, we had eaten a lot and wondered how we were going to survive dessert!
They brought us a fried banana for dessert, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce in a cross pattern on the plate, for one to use as a dip. Sadly we were not able to finish this scrumptious dessert because we had had so much of their wonderful food earlier.
By the time we finished this great meal, the restaurant was beginning to fill up.
Maria Davis, a member of the Fredericksburg community commented that, “The food is fabulous and the service is spectacular!” She recommends Umi for families because of the wide variety of the food.
She also claimed that the, “Food is a work of art” and that Gao and Chen are “artists”.
They truly are and incredibly friendly and warm to their customers.
A bonus for Mary Washington students is that if you bring your student ID, you receive a 10 percent discount on whatever you order.
The prices are fair, the sushi and entrée list extensive, and the service is sociable.
Better get there early on a Friday or Saturday night—this new restaurant is going to be crowded.