I check out UMI in Camps Bay (including their special whisky bar offering)

by Karisa

UMI (part of the Kove Collection – which also includes The Marly & The Alphen boutique hotels, Paranga, Pepenéro & 5 Rooms to name a few) is a relatively new eatery on the Camps Bay strip where the old St Yves Beach Club used to be.

Thanks to this location, you can only imagine that the restaurant boasts some of the best views in town, and to keep up with the look of the rest of the strip, it’s quite elegant & sexy as well…  Actually the place is truly just gorgeous.  So from an ambience/location/decor perspective, UMI already ranked very highly in my book as soon as I walked through that front entrance.

My camera’s flash gave in like just before this visit, so it was doing all kinds of weird things and I don’t feel my photos really do the place justice.  So please also hop on over to their website and take a look at their gallery.

Here’s a few photos of mine to give you a feel for the place:

See what I mean?  Love that decor… I really do.

Now prettiness aside, I was invited to come and test drive their menu as well as some of their whiskies from their new Whisky bar which opened early October.  I took along trusty partner-in-crime Leigh, who in recent months has become quite the whisky connoisseur-in-the-making, so she was the perfect person to balance out my non-whisky drinking ways.

A bit more about the Whisky bar before we move onto the food:  It can seat 40 guests and features a rich purple colour scheme.  The bar offers over 100 varieties of carefully selected whisky from all around the world, and each whisky comes with a Jim Murray rating (he’s the author or the annual Whisky Bible) along with details about its region of origin.

Leigh tried the Glen Grant 10 yr (R50 for single shot) and it’s described as “Golden syrup and butterscotch.  Granite-like barley.  A tad tangy with marzipan to bid you farewell”.  I tried the Glenlivet 12 yr (R40 for single shot) and it’s described as follows: “Wonderful nose. Delicate florals, vanilla and honey.  Classic Speyside.  Lingering and gentle caramel finish.”  So yeah, we pretty much chose the two most girliest sounding whiskies there, I mean those descriptions pretty much conjure up images of unicorns frolicking in a field of Spring flowers, doesn’t it?  But hey, we are girls, and we were very happy with our choices.

For the serious whisky drinkers out there, remember there’s 98+ others to choose from & you’ll be happy to know that its usually open 7 nights a week (I say usually because on the night they had to close it because the barman wasn’t there for the evening).  But of course you don’t have to sit in the bar, you can order any of their whiskies from your table as well.

Right, now onto the food.  UMI serves what they refer to as modern Japanese cuisine.  The menu is broken down into appetisers, salads, something crunchy (snacky type dishes), grills, signature seafood, sushi & desserts.  Price wise it’s nothing too crazy when compared to the rest of the strip.  Expect to pay R50 – R120 for the starters/salad sections, R160 for a marinated beef fillet, R130 for norwegian salmon or pan-fried East coast sole, R75 – R125 for their sushi rolls (8 pieces each) & R55 – R85 for dessert.

Leigh and I opted to just order a few things to share so we could try a mix of things:

Top left: Baby squid Kara age (R70); Top right: Tuna & Salmon Sashimi Tacos with Charred Tomato Salsa (R80 – you can also choose lobster for R120) & Tataki Tuna (R70 – can also choose beef or salmon); Middle: Umi house roll (R125) & Prawn and Avo roll (R85) ; Bottom: Banana cream pie (R70)

The verdict:  That Tataki was absolutely beautiful, could’ve easily had a few more servings of that.  The crispy baby squid was an average dish, not bad, but nothing amazing.  The fish tacos were terrible – soggy, tasteless, would highly recommend you avoid that.  The sushi was good, particularly the UMI house roll – of course nothing will beat my personal favourite, Nuri sushi – but this was really enjoyable.  Oh and that dessert was everything I was hoping for, a great way to end of the evening.

So yeah, a bit of a mixed bag there.  It’s a pity about that taco dish, but we did chat to the manager about it and he said he’ll be taking it up with the chef.  So hopefully that one will see some changes.  I’d say based on that Tataki, go for anything that’s in a similar new style sashimi category.  This seems to be something they do incredibly well.  We of course didn’t have any of the big seafood or grill dishes, so I can’t make any recommendations there.

All ‘n all, I’m going to give UMI the following ratings on the Miss K Kiss-o-Meter scale:

  • Ambience/setting/service:kiss4_smudge
  • Food:

It really is such a beautiful space, I highly recommend you go check it out for yourself.  It also makes for the perfect sundowner spot, particularly as we’re heading into long, hot summer nights.


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