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Issue Date: November 2009

Umami Equals Yummy

Laura Taxel

Chagrin Falls: The common wisdom used to be that there were four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Now scientists know there’s another.

Umami Asian Kitchen takes its name and inspiration from the Japanese word for the fifth taste, the flavor sensation we experience as satisfyingly rich, earthy, meaty and delicious. The place opened in January with a menu drawing on the cuisines of China, Thailand, Japan and Korea, but it isn’t confined by tradition. This approach translates into creative dishes, including Kobe beef sliders with wasabi aioli and sesame ginger fettuccine with roast duck.

The single page of food selections emphasizes small plates. In contrast, four pages are required to list signature cocktail, beer, wine and sake selections. Take advantage of both by coming here for an evening of drinks and grazing.

My tablemate and I opted for sharing a mini-bottle of fruit-kissed Moonstone Asian Pear sake ($10) and four app-sized items: the umami roll, a sushi wrap featuring raw tuna, shiitake mushrooms and fish roe ($10); a bowl of Tom Yum Gai soup, the thick creamy coconut milk broth studded with chicken ($6); a crunchy wakame salad that paired salty little shrimp with edamame beans and scallions ($8); and five sweet soy lacquered ribs with spicy, tart
kimchi ($10).

Table sharing is undoubtedly the best way to heighten your umami taste buds at this contemporary, 30-seater restaurant. Each dish was well-prepared while the few entrees offered tended to taste a bit salty. 42 N. Main St., Chagrin Falls, (440) 247-8600,

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