Catching up with Mr S always fun, as it results in both of us laughing like crazy at our very juvenile sense of humour.
For this catch up, we went to a restaurant that I've been meaning to try - Ume Hana, which is located on Elizabeth St. I had been to another Ume named restaurant on Lt Bourke St (refer my post back in Nov 2011). I had liked that place, and I wondered if I would also like this one.
The menu and photos of dishes are plastered on the front windows - you can hardly make out what it looks like inside. Upon entering the restaurant, my heart sunk a little.... the place had a bain marie. I'm not a fan of ordering anything that's been kept warm(ish).
I got even more concerned when we perused the menu. It's your typical Jap/Korean menu but everything was a few dollars more than your typical Jap/Korean restaurant.
However, all concern and reservations were banished when our food arrived. The extra money translated in better quality ingredients and very tasty food.
Green tea and miso soup.
We both went for a bento box. I went for the teriyaki chicken bb. Nice seasoned, tender chunks of chicken thigh meat. The vegetable gyozas were perfectly pan fried - crispy skin and piping hot inside, and not at all oily. The rice was fluffy and hot, and the salad was crisp and fresh. I didn't try the sushi as I'm not a fan of raw fish. I gave them to Mr S who really liked it with the better quality soy sauce.
Mr S went for the pork tonkatsu. I didn't try any of the pork, but it looked good - a golden, crispy coating and tender and juicy.
Although there was a bain marie present, I really liked the homestyle feel to the place. In fact, the cook (possibly owner, too) came out to ask whether we were enjoying our meal and also gently remonstrated us to drink the miso soup first, so as to warm up the stomach, before eating the cold entree (the sushi).
Upon leaving, he wished us well and gave us a lolly and a gingseng tea bag. We left full and happy.
I totally recommend this place. On the day we went, there were a few other diners - I don't think it gets as much business as with the other restaurants in the immediate area. I think it's becuase of the slightly pricier menu, but I think Ume Hana is definitely better than the many Jap/Korean restaurants in the city. The food quality is much better, and the serving size is also quite generous. Plus, I love the fact that the cook is so happy to share his food with you and wants his diners to enjoy their dining experience - it's the intangible things that puts UH above its competitors.
Food - 8.5
Service - 8
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 8
398 Elizabeth St
Telephone: 9663 1108