The heart of Washington DC’s City Center neighborhood has become a mecca for foodies from around the globe.
In the side streets and narrow alley ways of the District, some of the world’s most renowned chefs put years of training and apprenticeship to the ultimate test in a city that has become home to more than a dozen Michelin-star restaurants.
One of the most recent additions to the City Center food family is Umaya Izakaya. A rising star among the Japanese street food scene, Umaya blends a Western-style beer garden with traditional Asian dining – and offers one killer cocktail menu crafted by General Manager, Christian Mallea.
Putting its own unique twist on some of Japan’s most time-honored dishes, Umaya serves up Asian classics such as sushi, ramen, bento boxes, and saki, in addition to more authentic Izakaya masterpieces. Served in tapas form, guests are encouraged to share their dishes to promote community, togetherness, and a sense of serenity.Umaya’s Executive Chef Nick Hoang is no stranger to Japanese culinary expression and food design. With nearly two decades of experience in management, concept development and menu engineering, Chef Hoang mastered the art of cooking ramen on the island of Hawaii early in his career.
Priding himself on a masterful technique and extensive knowledge of new- age concepts, Chef Hoang’s passion for hospitality shines in the exquisite uniqueness of each and every Umaya dish.
When Chef Hoang invited us to Umaya to experience his quest to bring a fun, boisterous Japanese pub to the nation’s Capitol, we didn’t hesitate.
It should be noted that Umaya is anything but a typical, stuffy sushi spot. Guests should be prepared for a lively atmosphere and a cocktail or two.
Multiple rounds of cocktails.
Their comprehensive beverage program features specialty cocktails containing sake, variations of flavored liqueur, hints of flavorful herbs, and fresh fruits. Imported Japanese beer, sparkling wines, specialty sake, and ramune sodas are also menu regulars.
Of the beverages that we sampled, the “Dragonball” containing peach schnapps, black raspberry, and pineapple juice, and the “The Smoked Ginger” with Bulleit bourbon, ginger syrup, raspberry liqueur, and ginger beer were among our favorites.
To follow the cocktails properly, were served an array of Umaya’s classic sushi, including the specialty “Chesapeake Roll” with soft shell crab, lump crab meat, spicy aioli, jalapeño, and scallions.
The open robata grill provided the perfect laid-back atmosphere for us to eye the chef’s seemingly flawless assembly technique. He served a plate of “Robatayaki”(meaning “fireside-cooking”) with skewers of tender lamb, prawn, buttered sea bass, and crisp brussel sprouts.
We couldn’t leave without a giant bowl Chef Hoang’s signature ramen that was filled to the brim with piping hot broth and vegetables. We recommend the “Veggie Ramen” with sweet corn, firm cubes of tofu, seaweed chips, spinach, mushrooms, and bean sprouts.
While a majority of Umaya’s menu items are moderately priced, it’s a small price to pay for high-end, quality fare.
Serving lunch and dinner, walk-ins are welcome, but for best seating, we recommend making a reservation, especially on the weekends.