Explore Pan-Asian Cuisine at Mumbai’s Umame


The Korean bibimbap at Umame in Mumbai’s Churchgate neighborhood.

For those who walk into this restaurant without knowing the cuisine, Umame is from the word umami, which translates to “pleasant savory taste” in Japanese. Also known as the “fifth taste,” umami is commonly found in tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and soy sauce, among many other foods.

Chef Marzban Amroliwalla, the 21-year old heading the dessert kitchen, said, “People immediately associate Japanese food with sushi and raw meat, and for them caviar is just fish eggs, that’s the perception I wish they change and try the right dishes.” He has conceptualized the robatayaki menu at the pan-Asian fine dining restaurant. A brain child of Farrokh Khambatta, I went in with the notion that drinks and desserts are all that I will have, but in fact enjoyed a meal that lasted three hours, and seated between two vegetarians, I was forced to change my belief that Japanese cuisine is not meant for vegetarians. “Owing to the area [Churchgate], it is impossible for us to not have vegetarian inclusions, since most of our clientele is vegetarian,” reasons Amroliwalla.

Quite convincing, since on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant ran a full cover, with most of the guests having the choicest of vegetarian dishes.

What to eat: The chef urges us to move beyond Khaw Suey which is their highest selling dish, but not the only thing they would want you to try. We liked with the robata grill asparagus and shitake mushrooms with spicy yuzu miso from the robatayaki menu, and moved on to the excellently flavored burnt chile and tamarind soup. Breaking our notion that vegetarian sushi can’t be tasty, we were floored by their Crunchy Roll and Spicy Samurai Roll, along with the creatively prepared vegetarian mock duck; the Crystal Jade vegetables with sprouts bibimbap is another must-try menu item. 

What’s for dessert: We tried the Chocolate Cigar but what really stole the show was The Big Bang TheoryMade with edible planets and asteroids, the dessert attracted all the attention to our table.

Why Umame: Because it’s time Indians tried Japanese food and explored pan-Asian cuisine. While Asian cuisine faces a daunting challenge of getting restricted to only Chinese food, Umame successfully persuades people to try dishes from other cuisines.

Whom to go with: A completely family dining experience, Umame is a place where you go to host a private party with your select set of family friends. Of course, couples can enjoy a cozy dinner, too, but when (and if) I get a salary hike, I am talking my parents here.

What to wear: I think they only accepted me in chappals since I was writing about them, so, smart casuals or formals should be donned.

Cost for 2: Approximately 3000 Rs; 48.22 USD.

Foodie tales from the modern Indian. Lettuce Review is a weekly capsule of food fables from the Indian subcontinent, our culture and hospitality. Join us as we give insights into our country, break myths about our cuisine, while welcoming you this colourful land of diversity! Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

A version of this review was originally published on Lettuce Review.