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Best for: pan-Asian cuisine in Crowne Hotel serenity without the hotel price tag.
Great: service, desserts.
“Look, look! Let’s go in there!” she says, as if she’d never set foot in regal west London before.
I know we’ve come from the east end but I haven’t got my dumb, wide-eyed pauper gaze at the ready for this trip. Maybe she (Olivia Twist over there) has, but I certainly haven’t. It’s all getting a bit “Cor blimey guv” for me.
It’s the interiors of the houses, boutique hotels and restaurants that line Gloucester Road that are doing it for her; a bit of tree bark and red wallpaper in one, elaborate chandelier in another. Gloucester Road is awash with contemporary interior design.
This is a good thing, apparently. What’s also apparent is that when it’s pouring with rain, when we’ve only got one umbrella between us, when we’re sodden and wading up and down Gloucester Road, addresses don’t seem to matter anymore.
Fortunately, exact addresses matter to me (I quite like this reviewing lark) and eventually, thankfully, we spot Umami. And eventually, thankfully, I manage to haul Olivia Twist away from next door’s decor before entering the restaurant, maybe because I’ve told her we’re in for a good meal here (no gruel guaranteed), but more likely down to the glass wall sculpture in the lobby.
She admires said glass wall on the way in and, sitting down in the restaurant, finds there’s even more to impress her. Olivia Twist ‘ere has found a home from home; the food is from the east; far, Far East; Asian east. There’s a little bit of Thai, a little bit of Vietnam, a little bit of Malaysia and a little bit of Indonesia. Even a little bit of up West comfort in the leather banquette seating and the modern decor.
The menu is varied but succinct with a couple of set menus as suggestions (good for East End novices). I order the Thai calamari (basil, garlic and peppercorn tossed squid) and the tempura lychee (battered lychees stuffed with prawn and chicken) to start. Olivia orders the Indonesian gado gado (warm veg and tofu in a tamarind flavoured peanut sauce) and the Roti Canai (a buttery flatbread with Indian dipping curry). Sophisticated ordering, I agree, but the service is good (see: polite, obliging, ask a question get a straight answer). Granted, it’s a quiet Tuesday evening but no patronising the patrons here, not even Olivia Twist.
The basil with the calamari makes an interesting mix (I’ve never had basil with calamari before, but I like it) though the tempura battered lychees get a bit lost with the prawns and chicken. As for Olivia, the gado gado is a “good ‘ealthy crunchy salad” and the roti canai, “definitely a bit of all right.”
East meets east again in the main course: ped makham or pan seared duck with tamarind & mange tout. I love a bit of duck and this is loveable duck. He’s spent a bit too long in the pan but he’s still tender. And the steamed rice is nice and fragrant, thoughtfully accompanied by a bowl (handy for a bit of begging if the bill’s an unwelcome surprise). Olivia goes for Indonesian curry (tofu and veg curry Indonesian style with coconut milk and chilli). She’s happy as Larry. She gets her own bowl too, just in case. And some rice.
The prices indicate we’re not going to need those begging bowls after all though, so after a bit of double-checking, we go for a pudding as well. I have the green tea ice cream and ginger ice cream whilst Olivia has the coconut ice cream and chilli ice cream. It’s an ice cream bonanza. The flavours are true and the chilli gives her a kick. A very refined and ever so gentle West End kick rather than a sharp East End dig.
Now, I’m not sure if Olivia has the refined palate that I’d normally give credence to, but she enjoyed her trip to Umami, food and decor alike. But then let’s face it, most people know good food when they eat it.
The bill was no more than the average busy restaurant in town, east or west, which is surprising given its location in a West London several star hotel. All in all, definitely a little bit of London hotel sophistication and serenity at an honest price, for all to enjoy.
Customer Reviews for Umami
Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Umami.
“lovely pan asian restaurant in west london Hotel, makes a change from boring restaurants in hotels...well kitted with fab food”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Parmla Narad, Wembley (6 years 9 months 9 days ago)
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- Cuisine Type: Asian
- Group: (Independent/Freehouse)
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