Springfield, MO is one of my all-time favorite places to travel to. But a number of stores in the area were in flux over the past three or four years so I didn't have much of a reason to travel there until I got a call from a long-time dealer whom I've wanted to do business with for a number of years. I signed him up earlier this summer and I've been back a couple times to do training and some business meetings. Two of the guys working for my new dealer worked for my old dealer that I called on years ago. After doing training one night, I wanted to take them out to dinner and I suggested that we go back to Haruno, a surprisingly great sushi place that they first took me to about 8 years ago. (Click here to see my post on Haruno.) One of the guys said, "Haruno is very good, but there's another place that opened up not long ago that is every bit as good as Haruno, but it won't be packed like Haruno." The name of that place is Umi Japanese Restaurant. I was intrigued and we drove over to Umi located in a strip mall just south of Battlefield on S. Kimbrough Ave. (see map)
A gentleman by the name of Spring Park is listed as the owner of Umi which - in addition to sushi - serves a full menu of steaks, seafood and chicken entrees. The place was very dim on the inside - even with a blazing evening sun, it was very dark inside. I had trouble adjusting to the level of darkness in the place. Every picture that I tried to take of the interior of the place didn't come out.
And the guy was right - Umi wasn't packed at all when we got in there around 7:30. We were seated right away at a table and greeted by our server, Dillon. We each got sushi menus and one of the guys suggested getting a plate of some of the various specialty sushi rolls Umi is locally famous for. He took the lead in ordering up sushi rolls that included the Kiss and Cry Roll, the Ninja Roll and the Touchdown Roll. I always have to get a spicy tuna roll so we tacked that on, as well.
The plate came to the table and it was filled with a number of rolls in different shapes and colors. The Kiss and Cry Roll featured spicy crab, red snapper and jalapenos on the inside and layered with chopped avocados, jalapenos, tobikio eggs, and a mix of four different spicy and sweet sauce - including a wasabi sauce - on the outside. Oh, man - was it delicious.
The Ninja Roll had spicy tuna, smoked salmon, cream cheese, Sriracha sauce, sliced avocado and crab, then it's deep fried with sweet sauce on top. The Touchdown Roll was made with fresh spicy crab and topped with green onions on top. Both of those were very good, as well. The spicy tuna roll was equally tasty with generous amounts of spicy tuna inside the rice roll.
Even with all we had to eat, a couple of us were still hungry. I wanted to try their nigiri sushi (with rice) and I asked Dillon to send us out some smoked salmon, red snapper, tuna and regular salmon. We got six pieces of the smoked salmon, and a couple pieces each of the other sushi. Like the specialty rolls, the fish was fresh and flavorful without a hint of a fishy taste. The smoked salmon had a brisk smoky flavor but it wasn't overpowering at all. With all the specialty rolls we had, it was all I could do to finish a couple pieces of the smoked salmon, one of the tuna nigiri and one of the the red snapper (which one of my guests pointed out may or may not have really been red snapper). Nevertheless, the sushi was very good.
I have colleagues who are dead set against having sushi at any place that is more than 100 miles from the nearest ocean. But I have to say that I have now had sushi at two places in Springfield, MO - 600 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, 1000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and 1500 miles from the Pacific Ocean - that was very good to outstanding. Umi was another surprisingly great sushi place in Springfield. The sushi was fresh, the specialty rolls were interesting and very good, and Dillon's service was also very good. The only quibble I would have with the place was that it was too dark and dank. Still, they served up some pretty damn good sushi.