Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Umami, Brookline

Those of you who have spent any time reading A Boston Food Diary know that I have a serious problem finding anything spicy in Boston.  Every once in a while I feel a little zing of some heat and I get excited, but truly spicy, burn my mouth, make me wonder if I can finish the dish spicy?  That doesn't happen often.  With that said, let me introduce you to Umami, located just outside Washington Square in Brookline.

Umami opened a bit over a year ago to little acclaim.  Billed as an Asian Bistro, the menu incorporates Asian flavor into classic bistro fare, and incorporates herbs and spices not normally found in Asian cuisine into their dishes.

We started our meal with a couple of appetizers- the Black Tiger Shrimp, which were sauteed with peppers and onions, in garlic butter with smoked cayenne and lemon thyme, and the honey ginger glazed chicken wings served with an Asian slaw.  The shrimp were large and plump, well cooked and well seasoned as they swam in the garlicky sauce.  What I really loved here was the addition of the thyme.  The other flavors in the dish screamed typical Asian, but the thyme was an unexpected pleasure. 

The wings, were another delicious take on a classic Asian appetizer.  The honey flavor made them reminiscent of the chicken wings often found at an average Chinese food spot, yet far better version.  However the unique twist here was the Asian slaw they were served with, julienned spicy peppers, tossed in vinegar created the perfect tart contrast to the honey glaze.  

After much debate I settled on the Fruitti di Mare for dinner, a traditionally Italian dish I was excited to see the Asian twist.  The menu stated that the sauce that was served slightly spicy, so I, as usual, asked that if they felt like cranking up the spice I'd be ok with that.  I often ask this, and normally I am served a dish that has just a twinge of spice.  I am forever disappointed.  Umami blew me out of the water.  A large, beautiful bowl of pasta was set in front of me, littered with beautiful shrimp, calamari and mussels.  Simply looking at the dish I could see the chili seeds littered throughout the sauce.  I deeply breathed in the scent rising from the bowl and began to pick up on the spice.  I twirled the long strands of spaghetti onto my fork and lifted it to my lips...As soon as I placed the forkful in my mouth- I felt it.  Spice.  Real true, fiery heat.  I won't lie to you- I didn't talk much during the rest of the meal- my mouth was on fire.  Every bite created more, delicious, wonderful fire.  The great part of the dish was that there was still flavor present beyond the heat, acidic tomatoes, earthy herbs, all paired with succulent shrimp, perfectly cooked mussels and delicious calamari rings. I was thrilled.

I have dined at Umami a couple of times now and each time have been more then impressed with the quality of the food and the creativity of the dishes.  This is a little star that is well worth the trip to Brookline to check it out.  


Jen said...

We've only been there once and it was delicious. Great cocktails too! Glad you finally found something spicy in Boston.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I'll have to tell my in-laws about this place. They live right around the corner!

Unknown said...

glad you had a good experience, i went once and was totally underwhelmed :/

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