You might have a slight sense of déjà vu when you ascend the elevators to Mami Umami – it’s taken over the same space which used to house Iron Chef Morimoto’s eponymous eatery – but this revamped spot has very much its own character and vibe.
Near all the elevators there are now sanitiser dispensers, also present on the reception stand and discretely placed in pretty white packing on every dining table, too. Another big tick for safety? Spare disposable masks as you enter and exit should you like to refresh on your way out. Temperature taking occurs as you enter – with the option of self parking being another ideal scenario in this age of Coronavirus.
The masked greeters escort you to your table – all adequately spaced apart – but despite the place being open only a short time it’s already made its mark as there was an upbeat buzz, helped by perfectly suited music – that was welcome for a weekend outing.
They’ve cleverly kept the former two-storey space to just one floor, with pretty partitions ensuring the rooms feel cosy rather than cavernous. Your eye is immediately drawn to the masters working furiously behind the sushi bar – a nice touch preserved from its previous incarnation. Moody lighting, dark woods and statement latticed hanging lanterns complete the room.
The server’s uniforms, with a gently tropical vibe, hints at the South American accent that the restaurant has been given to marry with its modern Japanese roots. The dishes we sampled, however, definitely stayed in the latter's camp. Edamame kept us occupied while we waited for the chicken gyoza and zingy jalapeno-spiked yellowtail tacos to whet our appetite for the main course of black cod – flakey and feather-light. Those who yearn for raw delights will be thrilled as there’s a large selection of crudos, tiraditos, maki rolls, sushi and sashimi to pick from. Several parties were purely opting for the chef’s selection of the latter as huge platters were being brought to tables.
Don’t miss dessert – the smokey S’more is aptly named and immediately evocative of the childhood favourite sweet treat. This time elevated with ice cream at its core and a swirl of torched meringue on top.
Mami Umami was devised to emulate an izakaya; an informal Japanese watering hole that combines a well-thought out beverage menu with accessible eats that can be easily shared. The keen pricing and beautiful set-up of this spot ensures it meets its brief.
Find Mami Umami at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Marasi Drive, Business Bay, UAE. For more information call +971 512 5555 or visit renaissancedubailife.com