Longtime Atlanta patrons of art and culture, Charlie Hendon of Hendon Properties and Farshid Arshid of Fontanell Management, will bring classic along with modern Japanese flavors to Buckhead with the opening of Umi in May. With more than 28 years of culinary experience in both traditional Japanese and classic French restaurants, Tokyo-born chef and partner Fuyuhiko Ito will lead the kitchen and introduce a diverse menu with international influences and progressive approaches to Asian fare.
Ito began his restaurant career at the age of 17 at Chateau Lion in Tokyo where he handled fresh fish from the Tsukiji Fish Market daily. Over the next several years, Ito worked under master chef Kono in the United States and a top Yakitori chef at Toriyoshi in Nishiazabu, Tokyo. In 2007, Ito served as executive chef of MF Buckhead in Atlanta where his cuisine earned a five-star rating in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Umi will embrace my heritage along with my unwavering passion for high quality ingredients and contemporary Japanese cuisine,” said Ito. “I hope to create a truly unique dining experience for Umi guests by infusing flavors from all over the world.” The inventive dinner menu will feature an assortment of starters, soups, salads, sashimi, nigiri and specialty and traditional rolls. Hot items such as baked lobster tempura, sautéed foie gras and black cod miso and a selection of “aburi” or slightly cooked sushi-grade fish, such as yellowtail, flounder, scallops, jack fish and sea urchin, will accompany the expansive menu. As the perfect weekday lunch, Umi will offer the traditional Bento Box featuring the chef’s daily meat, seafood, vegetable and rice creations.
In addition, guests will enjoy midday offerings of sashimi salad; “Zuke-Don” or sesame soy-marinated tuna on a bed of rice; “Negitoro-Don” or toro chopped with green onions; teriyaki chicken and Harami steak. All lunch specials will be served with Miso soup and house salad. Pastry chef Lisa Matsuoka Ito, also the wife of Ito, will present a dynamic dessert menu consisting of beautiful creations including her signature green tea soufflé along with yuzu meringue square, mochi ice cream crepe with super fruits and pecan chocolate pie with Ara Shio caramel sauce. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Lisa worked under the great master pastry chef Francois Payard at Le Bernadin and also as a pastry assistant at Gotham Bar and Grill in New York and Resto de Amis in Atlanta.
A diverse selection of beverages will complete the carefully curated menu featuring a special craft cocktail program that incorporates symbolic influences from the seven lucky gods of Japanese folktale in addition to a unique table-side coffee service. Located in the heart of Atlanta’s bustling Buckhead neighborhood in the Two Buckhead Plaza building, Umi will offer guests a warm, modern atmosphere with each detail carefully selected to complement the Japanese menu. Atlanta designer and artist Todd Murphy created the design concept under the principle of Axel Vervoordt, which combines modern, rustic and organic elements to create a harmonic balance. A 23-foot custom-built white oak sushi bar sits underneath a luminescent ceiling while dark green banquettes and Tom Dixon slab chairs line the dining room. Light wooden floors, hand-charred cypress walls and a terrarium installation add earthy and dramatic components to the space.
“The idea in defining the space conceptually centered on alchemy,” said Murphy. “Sushi is pure, clean food with simple, thoughtful and minimal intervention and the materials in the restaurant reflect this philosophy. There is no color pallet – all of the materials are simply themselves and have their own unique qualities.”
The ancient Japanese application of Shou Sugi Ban was used to create the charred wood elements, while contrasting gold and natural woods provide added warmth. Murphy’s mission was to let the purity of the food speak for itself by focusing on a simplicity and attention to details. Atlanta-based firms Goodrowe|Hobby and Alex Muñoz & Associates, Inc. provided design consultation services and architecture and interior design services, respectively. The space was built by Amstar Enterprises. Umi is located in the courtyard adjacent to the St. Regis Hotel terrace at Two Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1, Atlanta, Ga., 30305. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily with valet parking available and shared with Chops and Lobster Bar