Umi Restaurant

Umi Restaurant
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Groups, Quick meals, Special occasions, Views
Japanese, Modern, Sushi
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
no BYO

Critic's review

Katharine Jacobs

The people
Australian chef Scott Hallsworth, who has worked at Nobu London and Nobu Melbourne, came on board for the menu development phase, and the kitchen is now run by Julian Gabriel, who's done time at The Cape Grace, Delaire Graff and abroad, including a stint for John Torode of British MasterChef fame.

The menu
The menu is extensive: new-style sashimi, sushi, tempura, grills and seafood with an Asian twist – think dashi-infused crayfish with yuzu butter; Norwegian salmon with teriyaki, soy and asparagus; and black cod with misoyaki. It’s a little tricky to narrow down the options, so we dutifully follow the waiter’s recommendations.

The starter of lobster rice paper rolls with avocado, spicy mayonnaise and a lone tempura cocktail tomato is a little forgettable – not as fresh and fragrant as it could’ve been, though the tiny circles of jalapeno add a little kick. The rock shrimp tempura (little battered balls of shrimp) are firm and crunchy. Yummy enough with a spicy mayonnaise.

The baby spinach salad with truffle oil, yuzu, dried miso and crispy leeks shows a bit more class. With simple yet full-on flavour, it demonstrates some considered balancing of sour, umami and salty flavours. The beer-marinated beef fillet with a trio of sauces is a triumph. Juicy and tender, it’s so full of flavour that it barely resembles fillet, which can sometimes be a little bland. It’s a small portion, but topped with exotic mushrooms, it’s intensely umami-rich and so fragrant when paired with the sauces, particularly a spicy Peruvian anticucho, that I barely notice its size.

The marble yuzu cheesecake with vanilla ice cream is a bit of a let-down after this stellar performance. Bland and un-inventively garnished with a couple of berries and cheesy mint leaf, it calls to mind the cheesecakes of shopping centre cafés. I eat it mostly because it is in front of me. (There’s also a Valrhona chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream on the menu. Perhaps I should’ve ordered that.)

The drinks
There’s a very large and well-balanced (but pricey) wine list, and a cocktail list of similar proportions. I spot some gorgeous crushed-ice drinks being sipped at neighbouring tables, but I’m less impressed by my peach and ginger mojito.

Located in the old Pepper Club at the Beach space (which was Summerville, once upon a time), the restaurant boasts a first-floor view of the sea from the outdoor tables. The inside of the restaurant has been given a five-star treatment, although the buzz and traffic noise from Victoria Road below creeps in and tends to deflate the intended ambience a little.

Friendly, if not totally polished. The food comes flying out of the kitchen: we’re warned as we order that it will come as it’s ready, not necessarily in sequence, which is fine, but this lends itself more towards tapas-style grazing than ordered dining and main meals.

The verdict
All in all, it’s an okay performance: two and a half great dishes out of five is not a great batting average, but it’s a pass. But here lies the problem: with appetisers around the R90 to R120 mark, our bill for two starters, one salad, one main, one dessert and two cocktails comes in at a devastating R800. It may not be quite as pricey as Nobu, but it’s not as delicious either. And the prices put it into a whole other category: one that includes the likes of The Pot Luck Club or Jordan. It’s a category where every dish on the menu needs to be a win – and they’ve got a little bit of work to do before that is the case.

(January 2014)
  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

User reviews

  • We tried Umi recently.Perfect setting( yes it's Campsbay), service not too bad. The wine we ordered not too expensive.

    As we didn't feel like having a big lunch, we ordered 8 pieces of sushi....little expensive but we overlooked this because of the ambiance and setting.Then ordered the mains; fish & chips of the day.

    We received, beautiful plated, FOUR tiny fish fingers and FOUR( yes 4) chips, stacked on top of each other @ R 140! This dish was barely enough for a child to eat.

    We left hungry.In future, we would rather try one of the other 10 options in Campsbay. We feel this is a bit of a rip off.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food


Enjoy two courses for R190 and three courses for R230 at Umi this winter. Highlights include octopus carpaccio, salt-and-pepper chilli squid and braised sweet-and-sour short rib.



  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Hotel
  • Serves food

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