Located at: Taj Samudra, 25 Galle Face Center Road, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 11th March, 2023
I have heard much positive feedback on Yumi, Taj Samudra’s Japanese restaurant, and tonight it was time to give it a shot myself. The décor isn’t exactly Japanese-inspired, but has been done tastefully to create a pleasant and comfortable ambience for the diner.
Two of the beverages that we selected were from the ‘Healthy Combinations’ menu. Pineapple and Ginger Lifter – pineapple, ginger and mint (LKR 1,500) was an utterly refreshing mocktail, and indeed an uplifting beverage to sip during the course of the meal. It’s a Date – date, plum and soy milk smoothie (LKR 2,000) was a more unique affair with an earthy – and definitely healthy – feel to it. A smoothie of a good kind. Sri Lankan Dream (LKR 2,750) was a local arrack-based cocktail that I am told was fresh and fruity, too.
We started the evening off with a round of Miso Shiro – traditional Japanese miso soup (LKR 1,210) which set the tone for an enjoyable culinary experience. The soup was comfortingly warm and seasoned perfectly with neat little cubes of tofu and wakame seaweed entertaining the palate between mouthfuls.
From their warm appetisers, we ordered a portion of Ika Fry – crumb-fried cuttlefish (LKR 2,860) which turned out to be quite a treat. It was served with a side of fresh, crunchy salad and a spicy mayo dip as well as a teriyaki-based dip. The cuttlefish itself had been crumbed with a batter that gave off a hint of Japanese pickled ginger. The flavour was slight, but made a noticeable difference to the tasting experience. The cuttle was fried perfectly to give it a bit of crunch on the outside while having a nice bite within.
To go with this, we ordered a portion of Dragon Maki – batter-fried crispy prawn roll wrapped with avocado (LKR 2,750). This was delish. The combination of textures was great with the crunchy prawn core wrapped in a touch of seaweed and engulfed in just the right amount of sticky rice, topped with soft avocado and generously drizzled with a dressing that complemented it perfectly. The touch of sesame seeds on top not only looked good as a garnish, but also added a little pop in terms of texture.
For the mains, we tried Yumi’s Chicken Katsu Don (LKR 3,850). And it was great. There was a generous serving of well-seasoned crumbed chicken strips that were wonderfully filling. This was topped with a runny egg and an onion relish that, together with the chicken, created a perfect combination of taste and texture. The dashi broth in the sticky rice was just as the menu had described it – sweet and savoury – and more importantly, it was well-balanced, making the rice rather appetising.
We also tried their Buta Shogayaki – thinly sliced sautéed pork with a ginger sauce, served with sticky rice (LKR 3,850). This, I thought, was an excellent find. Putting it simply, it was delicious. Again, the pork was well-seasoned, and that beauty of a sauce did wonders to the meat as well as the sautéed vegetables that accompanied it. The pork, as promised, was thinly sliced and well-cooked, almost completely devoid of fat – which was great. An unassumingly fantastic dish.
Finally, it was time for dessert. Let me begin with the Dark Temptation – warm rich Belgian dark chocolate cake, served with vanilla ice cream (LKR 1,980). This was divine. Large as it was, it looked deceptively rich and heavy. But it had just the right amount richness – mostly in its decadent ganache topping. The cake itself was a lot lighter than I imagined – not a soft sponge as such, but definitely not the sort of dense cake that one might expect with that menu description. And, of course, the vanilla ice cream was the ideal match for it. It was a perfect dessert and a proper treat for any chocolate lover.
The Japanese Cheesecake – served with a mixed berry topping (LKR 1,980) was also a large portion, but definitely was not Japanese cheesecake. We generally love a good Japanese cheesecake, mostly for its delightful, light, melt-in-the-mouth fluffiness. But this was nothing of the sort. It was harder, egg-heavy and dense, and definitely not a ‘rich creamy’ texture that the menu promised. What should have been an iconic Japanese dessert at a Japanese restaurant was disappointingly not so.
Now the Wasabi Crème Brulée (LKR 1,980) was something else. All of Yumi’s desserts are priced at the same value. However, while the Dark Temptation and Japanese Cheesecake were sizeable, to say the least, the Wasabi Crème Brulée came in a much smaller portion size – so much so that we joked about it possibly being a sample rather than the actual dessert. Taste-wise, it definitely had a noticeable wasabi flavour that gave the usually docile dessert an interesting savoury touch. Texture-wise, it was decent, too, with the crackle on top and a rich creamy feel to it. However, portion size was what left us baffled. This and the cheesecake are, for me, where Yumi lost points in an otherwise high-scoring meal.
On a side note – as you might have noticed, the items across Yumi’s menu are priced slightly higher most other similar Japanese restaurants around the city. Of course, the overall culinary experience was rather pleasing and satisfying. Bearing this in mind, the place is worth recommending to anyone who enjoys Japanese cuisine and is comfortable with their price range.
Yummy rating: 4.0 / 5.0