Yume are at the top of their game with incredible food, amazing ambience and outstanding value, writes James Howells
Rather than crashing onto our shores like the great wave of Kanagawa, Japanese food seems to have trickled into British cuisine much like a gentle estuary. Gently, but certainly not slowly. Nowadays, ingredients like wasabi, miso and matcha are commonplace in supermarkets, and institutions such as Istu and Wagamama (which actually translates to the act of being selfish) are popular, and successful.
Although some of the food is altered to agree with the Western palate, it is no bad thing that our mouths are being opened to the wonders of Washoku, or Japanese cuisine. Achieving UNESCO’s coveted cultural heritage status in 2013, allowed for easier exporting of Japanese products to places like the UK, which has definitely had an impact on the authenticity and improved value in Japanese restaurants.
Those of us who are lucky enough to visit Japan always come back in awe of what we ate, and it’s that same reason that makes us return time and time again, still only to be scratching the surface.
The enjoyment of Japanese food lies within its simplicity. That is not to say that the cooking is simple, but how much of a simpleton you feel when you find out how a magician’s trick is done.
Even though you know how it’s done, you can’t comprehend it.
Yume, which translates to ‘dream’, is the first Japanese-owned-and-run restaurant in Bristol, which shows in their dedication to keeping things like home. Including an excellent sake-tasting menu, reminiscent of the sake-tasting shops in Tokyo, the front of house staff are warm and inviting and the kitchen team is extremely talented. This is a wonderful place to eat.
They have a Sushi menu and a Kozara menu (Japanese small plates), as well as larger udon noodle dishes.
The food is very authentic and very delicious. Homemade gyoza (£5.50) —small dumplings, filled with meat and vegetables, crisped on the bottom then steamed — are faultless and delicious. Asari no sakamushi (£3.70) are small, sweet clams steamed in sake.
Okonomiyaki (£3.90) which literally means ‘grilled as you like’ is sliced pork and vegetables cooked in a savoury pancake with okonomiyaki sauce (similar to barbecue sauce) and Japanese mayo.
It’s wonderful, comforting and filling. The soft shell crab tempura (£6.30), is the most expensive dish on the Kozara menu, and rightly so. In a lot of restaurants, the smaller soft shell crabs tend to be offered but these were generous and delicious.
The sushi is offered in the form of Hosomako, which is a long roll wrapped in nori seaweed then cut into pieces, Nigiri individual hand-pressed pieces, Temaki — larger cone shaped hand-rolls and Uramaki, which is inside-out sushi. The sushi on offer here is some of the best in terms of choice and value. Unagi Nigiri — rice topped with eel in a sweet, kabayaki sauce (£2.90 per piece) — was very good. The rice was wonderfully seasoned and the eel was fatty with the sauce cutting through just at the right time.
Perhaps I am in favour of Japanese food because of personal bias, but I found the whole experience at Yume very intimate, comforting and welcoming. I feel great comfort knowing Yume is there to tide me over until I can, one day, go back to Japan.
9 Cotham Hill
0117 2002 888