Gastronomically, this is a unique experience in Vancouver. From the outside it looks like any other izakaya, popular throughout the city. However, it is until you walk up to the door and read the menu that you realize Umami is much more French than anyone can imagine. Examples:
-Braised BBQ eel and Quebec foie gras on slow cooked daikon in dashi broth
-Rib-eye tagliare marinated in herbs, fleur de sel and garlic with fresh BC wasabi beurre composé, served on a bed of aregula
-Roasted Chilliwack duck breast, dried fig demi-glace with gobo, Japanese taro and cheese
-Albacore tuna spring rolls wrapped in nori and Shiso leaves, with fresh BC wasabi and Shanso, soy, Mirin, balsamic and red wine reduction
-Green Tea Tiramisu, with gold sheets
Food is of excellent quality. Flavours are well balanced, with the aromas of Japanese ingredients successfully coming through in what looks to be French cuisine. Presentation is also beautiful. Their Green Tea Tiramisu is the best in the city.
In a "tapas bar", you'd expect small plates of food to be shared. Small portions are exactly what you get, and it's reflected in the small prices ($6-$15). However, the nature of their dishes are difficult to share. Their menu size is also small, with only about 15 items. But there's no difficulty in finding things to order, since everything seems to be so appealing. Tapas or not, Umami should consider a price increase. They cannot justify charging that little money on food made with so much care.
The restaurant is a small dark room. There's no doubt the focus is on the half-open kitchen, which seems to be always busy. Their staff is also small. Busy night or not, you may have breaks in between courses. But when it comes, you will be satisfied.
Umami serves absolutely superb food. They are true examples of Japanese-French fusion. To top it off, they make it all happen at a price you would not consider fair.