Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam restaurant review: Umami by Han

I first tried to eat at Umami by Han on the Overtoom a couple of months ago. I’d been at a drinks event just around the corner where there were fairly extensive snacks on offer, and afterwards we wanted to continue the sip-and-snack theme. We didn’t have a reservation, but it was late and there was space so we sat down and ordered some drinks. Next thing we knew, a complicated multi-course menu was being explained to us and we realised we weren’t in the right frame of mind for that kind of meal. We apologised profusely, hopped it to the tapas bar next door, and vowed we’d go back to Umami some other time.

That other time was last night. Same story: we ordered water, picked wine from a digital display, and settled in for a five-minute menu explanation. If I’m honest, I had much the same feeling: although on paper you’re choosing between a three-course menu and a four-course menu, in reality you have to choose six or eight individual plates. That’s a lot of decision making – we were at it for a full 15 minutes. The items aren’t really big enough to share, so you’re obliged to remember the multiple dishes you’ve ordered by the time they actually arrive. This is not food for drunk or forgetful people.
Umami by Han Amsterdam - pancakes
Umami by Han’s signature “umami pancakes”

Complicated menu choices notwithstanding, the dishes were mostly good. But forgive me if I can’t remember them all. Unsurprisingly given the name of the restaurant, there was a decent umami hit in many of them, and the Asian fusion thread that ran throughout the menu definitely worked. My favourites included the signature umami pancake (essentially a take on the classic Peking duck pancake) and the fried chicken thighs with ginger and yellow pepper sauces. The Black Angus beef with herb butter and Chinese pepper sauce was meltingly tender and full of flavour, and I was jealous of my friend’s scallops whose oyster/XO sauce smacked of umami.

Umami by Han Amsterdam - seabass
Seabass ceviche with leeks and… hagelslag?!

Two dishes that didn’t land quite so well were the seabass ceviche that lacked a sour, citric kick and looked like it was topped with hagelslag (I’m sure they weren’t but I’ve not yet figured out what was on top of the fish). The raw leeks didn’t help either. Meanwhile, the crayfish starter that came with foie gras puree and miso mayonnaise was too sweet throughout and wasn’t well balanced.

Umami by Han Amsterdam - buttery beef
Foreground: buttery beef; background: black halibut

Those two slightly off notes aside, the food, wine and service were overall of a high standard, and the price (€47 each, including a tip) very reasonable for both the quantity and quality of the dishes. It’s hard to say whether I’ll be back, but if and when I am I’ll be sure to turn up sober and awake – at least until the menu-ordering part is out of the way…

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Umami by Han (Asian)


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