Covert Scrutiny, Round 2 – Umami

14 Jan

I must admit I’ve been eyeing this place up for a while; dying to exploit its lunchtime student offers…

Escaping from the torrential rain (this is Manchester) and descending down the winding stairs into the depths of the Umami Noodle Bar, I shook off my coat and took preparation to seem like a studious student instead of taste assassin – out came the copy of Frankenstein and a grotesquely luminous highlighter. Here we go.

Firstly, I was pretty horrified by how HOT it was in there – a combination of the sheer amount of people crowded onto the tables and the fact that the kitchen had an open hatch connected to the restaurant (I dread to think how blistering it much have been in the actual kitchen, let alone outside). Patting myself on the shoulder for taking my coat off prior to entering, I was seated at the table closest to the direct heat source.

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Chicken yakitori; Umami, Manchester

I gave my order to a very flustered woman and my chicken yakitori arrived instantly (how?). Two little skewers of chicken with a teriyaki sauce were placed in front of me without so much as a look or an ‘enjoy’. I’m putting this down to the constant surge of would-be diners flowing into the restaurant at this time but it certainly left me feeling a little ‘out of place’. No formalities of polite conduct here… As for the starter, it was tasty enough for a minimal lunchtime combo offer but I was struck with jealousy as I peeked at next door’s sashimi platter that had just alighted. I could tell that the sushi selection on the menu far surpassed my meager choices – it absolutely was art on a plate.

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Sing chow vermicelli; Umami, Manchester

I was still green with envy when my sing chow vermicelli arrived. This was an enormous bowl of honey roast pork chunks lost in a nest of vermicelli, with a couple of king prawns lazing on top. Against my valiant efforts the dish was too large to be consumed in one sitting and I sat back, defeated.

I will add this – for a quick bite to eat after lectures, I do trust Umami to hit the spot. Don’t expect gourmet though, unless you’re ordering from that sushi menu. Which I will be… soon. Watch this space.

Yours,

Joss

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