When chef Fuyuhiko Ito’s former digs, MF Buckhead, closed in 2012, patrons were left with a major void. Now back in the saddle and helming the exquisite kitchen of Umi—a brand-new soon-to-be hot spot located adjacent to The St. Regis Atlanta and across from Chops Lobster Bar—Ito, along with co-owners and long-time Atlantans Farshid Arshid and Charlie Hendon, is filling that void, and then some.
We asked Arshid about his inspirations for opening Umi: “One was meeting chef Ito and dining with him, and, second, to bring a new level of style and dining excellence to Atlanta,” he says. “It was somewhat self-serving in that way, actually. We, too, missed MF and wanted a place to go.”
In that vein, the idea for Umi was born, and one year later, the doors opened. “The idea in defining the space conceptually centered on alchemy,” says designer Todd Murphy, who worked very closely with Arshid on the design vision. Goodrowe Hobby also consulted on the project. “Sushi is pure, clean food with simple, thoughtful and minimal intervention, and the materials in the restaurant reflect this philosophy. There is no color palette—all of the materials are simply themselves and have their own unique qualities.” The subtly elegant interior welcomes guests with subdued floor-to-ceiling black-washed burnt wood panels, polished light wood furniture and moss-green banquettes. Orb chandeliers, sculptural chairs and the thoughtful addition of shiny river rocks (to rest your chopsticks on) are all part of the resto’s intelligent design.
And, as smart as that is, the cuisine is by far the star. “The menu is inspired by my years of experience as a chef and lover of world cuisine. I was trained as a French chef, then learned Japanese cuisine,” says Ito. We were excited to find some MF faves (baked lobster tempura, anyone?) as well as his interpretation on a couple of Nobu favorites (can you say black cod miso?) on the menu. A bevy of original, innovative dishes are in the mix, too: think aburi sushi (all the rage in Japan—fish is slightly caramelized on an infrared grill for a flavor profile that’s more complex than raw sushi), scallop toban yaki, Kobe beef toban yaki, and specialty rolls made with surf clams, whitefish, shrimp or octopus. Don’t be surprised when your server pulls out a sharkskin grater to season your dishes with fresh wasabi: That’s just another example of Umi’s dedication to details. But, before overindulging in the dinner offerings, take care to save room for a green-tea souffle dessert. A unique creation from Umi’s pastry chef (and Fuyuhiko’s wife) Lisa Ito, only 10 of these piping-hot treats are served up per night.