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By Priya Konings

Although Umaya is not opening until May of 2015, a preview dinner was held on Tuesday, January 28th to get everyone’s palates excited for the advent of this new Japanese izakaya.


Umaya’s kitchen will be helmed by Chef Munehiro Yonemoto and Sous Chef Calvin Yim, who both have decades of experience in Japanese cooking. The menu they have devised will focus on Japanese small bites, with the chefs putting their own twists on time-honored dishes. Ramen and sushi will also be offered. Mixologist Marco Maffeo-Robinson will be creating cocktails to compliment the menu; an extensive beer and sake list will be available as well.


If the recent preview dinner is any indication, Umaya should be wildly popular in D.C. Both food and cocktails were complex and satisfying, with an emphasis on perfect seasoning and depth of flavor. The menu opened with a warm mushroom salad, where perfectly cooked mushrooms crowned a bed of greens dressed in a savory shiso, a Japanese herb sauce. The dishes that followed included crispy spring rolls, served with a sweet duck sauce, spinach drenched in an earthy sesame sauce, generous medallions of crispy fried tofu served on a bed of greens, and soulful yakisoba, served in a sweet and savory sauce, tossed with vegetables and sprinkled with seaweed. Each dish offered a different flavor and textures, from nutty sesame to succulent tofu to silky noodles.


Cocktails were as impressive; highlights included a refreshing cucumber sake martini, a ginger honey cocktail that offered just a hint of sweetness, a Japanese pear old fashioned, and a fresh squeezed Mandarin beverage that was both seasonal and refreshing.


Check back in a few months for our first look of Umaya!