Anyone that has ever talked food with me in the past couple of years knows of my obsession with Travail in Minneapolis. I have made several abortive attempts to dine there, and then they had the temerity to CLOSE their restaurant for remodeling in August of 2013.
As it turns out, the chefs at Travail got bored, and foodies everywhere got lucky. Due to their boredom, the chefs decided to put together a pop-up restaurant for a few months focusing on a dim sum style of food and service. Luckily I was able to score tickets for Umami for my birthday In early December, and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to go.
Umami is a family-style dim sum restaurant, with food circulating on carts as it is prepared in the kitchen. As per the tradition at Travail, the chefs also act as the servers, which adds an interesting flare to the service. The restaurant is loud, boisterous, and energetic. And the food…. Oh, the food. Course after course (10 in all), and each one was different and exciting. From a brilliant Korean barbecued beef steamed bun to a chicken wing that was insanely moist, everything on the menu was stunningly fresh and brilliant seasoned. I would find it nearly impossible to pick a favorite course, but the beef short rib and the avocado & egg dishes certainly jump out as among the best.
I can honestly say Umami ranks among the best places I have ever eaten, and it is easily at the top of the list when I think of the quality/cost ratio. For only $40 you can try everything on the menu, and have as much as you want. Beverages are separate, but there are a variety of reasonably priced beers and wines.
Umami will exist for only a few more weekends–I would encourage you to check it out before it closes. And when you go, make sure to buy a boot of beer for the staff! If you want to go, you need to buy tickets in advance–tickets are available at HERE.