It’s been a full two years and time has done very little to smother Umi’s sizzling reputation. The swish sushi den in Buckhead remains the haunt-of-choice for local and itinerant celebrities — Elton John, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jennifer Aniston have shown face here — and Atlanta's glitterati can't get enough of the buzzing scene and chef Ito's contemporary Japanese fare. Being branded a hot restaurant, however, runs great risk of social pomp trumping taste — so how does Umi's cuisine measure up to its “it” factor?
Exceedingly well, it seems. Chef Fuyuhiko Ito packed up his knives at Atlanta's former beloved sushi titan, MF Buckhead, in 2012, and transferred his exceptional cooking talent into Umi, his first (co-owned) restaurant, a year later. Many would claim his Umi venture not only complements MF Buckhead's legacy, but surpasses it, as local and national acclaim continue to bolster its status.
For the best experience in the house, follow Anthony Hopkins' lead at the chef's 23-foot-long white oak counter to take on the Ito-kase, the most premium — and wondrous — of Umi's three omakase offerings. The market-price meal (expect $120 and upwards) has chef Ito himself selecting and preparing his coursed choices for you. Just be sure, when he takes your party’s initial requests, that his yellowtail jalapeno starter, otoro caviar, kobe beef nigiri, and black cod miso — a Nobu nod and just as splendid — are on queue. You’ll have your back turned against the dining room for this counter-only experience, making it tough to participate in the “spot-the-socialite-or-starlet” game as everyone else with tables.
Here’s a hack: these persons of interest just might be seated to your immediate left or right. But no matter, as you’re solely interested in Umi for the top-rate sushi, yes?