Umi: Umi, Uni, and Umami in San Francisco

Umi, Uni, and Umami in San Francisco

By chance, I revisited a hidden gem in Potrero Hill called Umi. A friend of mine introduced me to Umi a few years back when it first opened and I was charmed by its intimate ambiance and open kitchen entrance. Umi is defined as “sea” in Japanese.

I stumbled upon one of the best Agedashi Tofu dishes I’ve had in the city at Umi. My affinity with Agedashi Tofu has gone far back, living in places like LA where some of the izakayas have perfected this dish. This simple, yet intricate dish is defined by the silky texture of the tofu along with the light batter that coats the tofu simmering in a dashi broth, topped with moving tentacles of bonito flakes. It’s very easy to overcook it or over batter the tofu, turning it into an over fried piece of tofu.

Umi prizes their fish as being sustainably raised, ably supporting the San Francisco food scene in helping increase its fish population. Their fish is very fresh, and the sushi chefs offer a great selection of rolls. Don’t come to Umi looking for rolls with spicy mayo and bells and whistles, but rather ingredients that accentuate the fish itself. They serve two types of uni: one from California and one from Japan.

Beyond a wide array of raw dishes, Umi also offers a number of excellent cooked dishes for those who aren’t as adventurous. These dishes would be often categorized as “umami” which means “pleasant savory taste” in Japanese.

If you’re looking for a quaint and intimate place for dinner in Potrero Hill, I would recommend definitely recommend Umi. Try out their nigiri sampler or one of their small plates.

Tuna Poke: sashimi style tuna with poke sauce
Beef Enoki Asparagus Maki: two types of pan fried all-natural beef makis, one wrapped enoki mushroom and the other wrapped around asparagus with teriyaki sauce
Grilled Butterfish: Butterfish served with a cucumber peanut relish, and a yuzu miso sauce
Salmon Kamikaze Roll: salmon with avocado, scallion @ tobiko
Shamus Roll: Shrimp Tempura with sprouts topped with avocado and tuna

Click here to view a slideshow of the meal at Carlie's Corner