Umi Asian, 57 Strand Road, Derry
The thing that really got me through the monotony of the lockdowns was TLC Sushi’s sushi.
When I couldn’t go out to a restaurant to get my sushi fix, their weekend pick-up service was excellent and really showed off TLC Sushi’s skill and artistry in creating Japanese delights.
The chef behind this skill has now taken the plunge with a catering company that I was very excited to try.
The place is simple, with an almost industrial feel, but it had a great atmosphere and an even better menu.
There were, of course, the obligatory sushi rolls and nigiri, but also a range of inventive small plates and some really interesting larger dishes, including a huge steak to share. There was literally nothing on the menu that at least one of us didn’t want.
I don’t often mention my servers by name, but Charlie, who accommodated our needs, delivered to a level that is to be commended. I couldn’t find a single fault in the service. He even taught my five year old son to cheat with chopsticks. She was delighted.
As great as the venue and the service is, the really outstanding thing was the fabulous food.
It is served tapas style, with plates coming from the kitchen as they are prepared. They all came pretty quickly, so if you think you haven’t had enough the first time around, you can quickly get a few more delicious dishes to devour.
We had salmon rolls with pink pickled ginger, reasonably sweet wasabi and plenty of soy for dipping.
The freshness of each element is what really makes sushi great, and it really shines through in the nigiri, which had large slices of salmon draped over blocks of vinegared rice. It was truly the simplicity of Japanese cuisine at its finest. I have never seen my little one eat so much food so quickly, not even sweets.
The Asian gastronomic journey continued with the following two plates. The first was a small bowl of crispy fried pork balls in a powerful smoky and salty sauce. The dumplings had a good meaty flavor so they didn’t get lost amid the sauce’s punchy flavor explosion.
Next was a large steamed bao bun filled with light and crispy Korean fried chicken.
Both dishes were delicious and perfectly executed. However, the prize for the most interesting and tasty plate of all has to be the special fish we ordered. The piece of fried hake had, like everything else, been perfectly cooked, but it was the marriage of barbecued pineapple topped with a sweet and tangy mash that made it heavenly. There were fried greens that melted in your mouth, adding an interesting texture to the dish.
We also ordered fries, which I know is almost sacrilegious in an Asian restaurant, but I was glad I did as we used them to mop up every bit of sauce.
In summary, it was an amazing journey through Asian cuisine, topped off with truly sublime service.
Salmon nigiri x 3 £15
Salmon uramaki €13.50
Bao brioche 8,50 €
Special fish 20€
Pork dumplings £9.50
Soft drinks x 3 £7.50