The art of umami

This week I’ve had the realisation that I’ve got a big umami need. It’s not something to be ashamed of, or for which I need to seek treatment, but it does explain my love of Japanese food.
The concept of umami came up during a conversation with Maya from Yo!Sushi. She’s one of the people behind the sushi chain’s planned move to the new Spinningfields development and we met up at the conveyor belt in Selfridges to take a pick of the travelling food dishes and talk about the next move.
I chose these rather interesting looking sweets which have a fabulous glutenous texture and a filling which reminds me of the bean pancakes they serve in Koreana.
Anyway my appreciation of these very Japanese delicacies prompted her to comment on umami – the appreciation of those tastes which can’t be categorised by sweet or salty – taste with a roundess or fullness all of their own such as soy sauce , mushrooms and even walnuts.
Aside from my taste buds I also discovered that the development planned for what’s going to be called “The Boulevard” (why?) promises to bring plenty of food – right to the doorstep of my desk.
As well as the new Yo!Sushi opening in August there’s also plans for a new Carluccios and other outlets such as Pret.
The new Yo!Sushi will be bigger than the other two in the city, seating 75 people and will offer a take-away and express service too.
Although the food will be the familar selection of sushi and sashimi favourites which the chain is now well-known for, they plan to do something very different from the norm with the inside and there was even mention of wall projections perhaps connected with Japanese cinema.

“At 75 seats it will be one of our biggest restuarants. We hope it can be a great canvas for us to do something a bit different” said Maya.

Watch this space and I’ll update you just as soon as the plans firm up.
During our chat, Maya revealed that she used to eat sushi everyday when she fisrt started working for the company. With 127 dishes to go at, I suppose it would be a long time before you got through all the stock.
Now that’s what I call umami!
* On the subject of food on convoyer belts, this fabulous exhibit caught my eye and made me chuckle during a recent trip to Newcastle’s fabulous Baltic.
by the Indian artist Subodh Gupta and the whole assortment of pots and pans moves along conveyor belts in a rather precarious way – both comic and fragile.
I managed to get this quick snap before being told off by one of the gallery assistants for doing so. Why do they do that? I know that in some cultures, taking a photograph is believed to take something of the soul of the subject but do people in Newcastle believe that too? What could possibly be removed from a display of steel cooking equipment by taking a photograph? In New York’s Museum of Modern Art they seem to positively encourage such activity with families all around taking pictures next to famous works of art or just collecting a little momento. If anyone can explain our strange attitutde towards photography in public places, do let me know.