By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD Boston Road is definitely the local destination for Japanese food with the addition of Umi Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar.
Located at 1168 Boston Road, Umi provides all of the expected features of a Japanese steak house and much more.
The restaurant itself is quite striking in its design with a long sushi bar separated from the hibachi tables by a beautiful glass wall fountain.
My wife and I went for dinner and were impressed by the menu. Umi offers more than just hibachi cooking and sushi. It has a full Japanese menu with tempura and teriyaki dishes as well as udon and soba noodles. Unlike other Japanese restaurants that have Japanese bento boxes commonly known as lunch boxes only for the noon meal, Umi also has bento boxes for dinner as well, ranging in price from $14.95 to $20.95.
The restaurant's sushi and sashimi menu is quite extensive with 30 different special rolls ranging from the "Scorpion King Roll" with fried soft shell crab, shrimp tempura, eel avocado and caviar ($18.95) to the "iPhone Roll" ($11.95) with yellowtail tuna, crunchy apple and kiwi. Umi also has a number of sushi combination meals available.
We ordered our tried and true California Roll ($4.50) and were quite pleased.
Our hosts also brought us another appetizer, shumai, their take on the traditional Asian steamed dumpling ($5.50) and they were delicious.
For dinner, we decided to try the hibachi. Although showmanship is very important in the hibachi experience, the food is the real test. Our chef knew what he was doing as he juggled his knife and spatula, built the onion volcano and cracked an egg with precision.
He also knew what he was doing when it came to the food. The hibachi dinners come with a salad and clear soup as well as vegetables, noodles and fried rice. Umi offers the standard chicken ($14.95) and shrimp, salmon, steak and scallops (all $18.95) that one finds at other steak houses, as well as some combinations of their own. Their Umi Special for Two ($53.95) features chicken, filet mignon, shrimp, scallop and lobster.
We chose chicken and steak and the meals were wonderful and the portions were huge. We both were given two shrimp as appetizers and the bountiful portions meant that not only did we have some wonderful leftovers, but also that Umi certainly earned a return visit.
Open for lunch Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m., Umi is open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Call 782-8888 for reservations on the weekends.