Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ume Japanese Restaurant and Ume Burger Pop-Up, Surry Hills

Three of my most memorable dishes from when I was a kid were tempura, sukiyaki and kamameshi crab rice. From the early age of 8 years old, I've already fallen in love with Japanese cuisine. Just as wine tastes better with age, so is my obsession with Japanese food. We are so lucky that we have an abundance of Japanese restaurants in Sydney that offers both traditional and modern takes of this cuisine.

Ume Japanese Restaurant in Surry Hills is a one hat (awarded by Sydney Morning Herald) Japanese restaurant that does contemporary take on the classics with a seasonal approach. It is a gem tucked away in the quiet part of Bourke Street. The space is a mixture of contemporary Izakaya and semi-fine dining. When someone like an ex-Tetsuya's chef like Kerby Craig owns and runs a joint like this, you can expect slam dunkin' dishes. So within a week, I visited them twice for two reasons: 1. To try their a la carte dishes; 2. To try out their burger pop-up that's happening for the first time ever (more on that later).

The restaurant
Yuzu soda
For starters, I ordered a yuzu soda ($5.50). It was so refreshing with its sweet and citrusy flavours. 
Shio koji kara-age
The shio koji kara-age ($16) is not the most attractive out there but definitely one of the tastiest! It had light crisped coating with meat that's flavoursome that had hints of sweetness and ginger. I also loved the housemade wasabi mayo that came with them!
Seared hokkaido scallops
One of the best dishes I've had in any restaurant is their seared Hokkaido scallops ($20). The perfectly seared scallops together with koikuchi shoyu, konbu brown butter and blood limes was sensational. I enjoyed the tangy, buttery and notes of citrus flavours.
Yaki nasu
If you like smoky eggplant dishes, then the yaki nasu ($19) is for you! Besides its bold smokiness it had a nice delicate texture. The wari shoyu combined with the grated ginger compliments the charcoal grilled eggplant well and it helps cut through the bold smoky flavour of the dish.

I was in awe of their kakuni at first sight and bite! It was beautifully constructed braised pork belly dish and the taste was smack bang full of umami! It had depth with flavours containing the perfect marriage of sweet and salty. It was also so tender that it melts in your mouth.
Pork dumplings
The pork dumplings ($16) were like a crossover of siumai and gyoza (minus the seared part). It had a nice delicate dumpling wrap and the actual meat filling was flavoursome with silky texture. The rice vinegar dressing was a nice touch to cut through the rich meaty flavour of the pork filling.
Mango dessert
The dainty mango dessert ($16) was an awesome way to end our meal. It was refreshing and I especially loved the combination of mango tofu, frozen green tea and mochi!

The Ume burger pop-up

Everyone knows my obsession with burgers! My radar tries its best to not miss upcoming burger joints and pop-ups. Chef Kerby adds his take on burgers into Sydney's #BurgerTown scene! Burgers inspired by the likes of renowned MOS burger and Freshness burger of Japan. At 1pm on a Sunday afternoon, a long queue formed outside Ume restaurant. The place was packed with burger lovers!  

The menu was small and not complicated, which makes choosing what to order very easy.
Chips with kombu salt

The chips with kombu salt ($4) were flawless. The outside of the chips was crisped whilst the inside was fluffy. The konbu salt was the perfect seasoning to go with this.
Ume burger

The Ume burger (which is his take on a cheeseburger - $14) straight away made the burger nerd in me throw fist pumps in the air! It was absolutely delicious and yes, it was full of umami (take note that I hardly use this flavour term in my posts). It was a cheeseburger on a league of its own. It had wagyu patty (the actual wagyu beef patty is covered under that mince sauce), wagyu mince sauce, melted cheese, mayo, tomato, onion and mustard in a soft sweet milk bun (sourced from a Japanese bakery). The wagyu patty was juicy and packed with flavour. The wagyu mince sauce was like a Bolognese sauce but more sweet, which gave the burger extra character. The melted cheese, creamy sweet mayo, zingy mustard and crisp bite from the onions gave the burger familiar classic cheeseburger flavours. The tomato gave a nice balance to the whole burger.
Tonkatsu burger

The tonkatsu burger ($14) was also a winner! The menchi kurobuta pork katsu patty was sensational with its crunchy coating and soft silky flavoursome filling. The sweet bbq-like sweet tonkatsu sauce and cabbage complimented the katsu patty well. This is one pork burger that I’ve come to love!

Kerby Craig and his team’s approach to modern Japanese cuisine is best described as innovative and sophisticated. The flavours are not complicated but the combination works well. The burgers on the other hand are definitely amongst the best in Sydney and I hope that the Ume burgers Sunday service continues. The service is great and the food is outstanding! 

Ume Restaurant
478 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW

Opening hours:
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to 10pm
Lunch Friday to Saturday 12pm to 3pm

Ume Burger (located at Ume Restaurant)
Check Ume Restaurant and Ume Burger’s Instagram account for updates and pop-ups.

Ume Burger Instagram:
Ume Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. I've swallowed my drools countless times reading this post. Ugh I need to go! Raff, you always manage to discover the coolest & most delicious places first!

  2. Very quick off the mark there on the burgers (and great to see you there!). Absolutely agree with you on the Ume Burger, it was SO delicious! I need to try the other burgers next time the pop up opens.

    Ume Restaurant is one of my fave Japanese restaurants and I'm going back in March. I definintely want to try the pork dumplings and the karaage.

  3. I've always been a little put off by the thought of a sloppy joe but I respect your burger loving Raff so I'm sure it was a good-un.

    1. The actual beef patty is covered under that mince beef. So it's not a sloppy joe :)

  4. That mango dessert, I couldn't take my eyes off it! But those burgers look real fine as well, so big and begging to be eaten :P

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. The yaki nasu sounds incredible! And I love that Sydney cannot get enough burgers right now :)

  6. omg omg omg - this is near my sydney office. I'm so heading here when I'm down, just for those scallops! I can see why you rate them so highly

  7. That Ume burger though..... and at $14, I would be fist pumping too!

  8. You're lucky that you got to try Japanese food from a young age - my parents were super traditional Chinese, and I only ever got to eat Chinese food!

    My kids are going to get to eat everything though...especially delicious looking pork belly dishes like that!


Let me know what ya think, aight! Would love to hear from ya.