week 16: umi no ie

a very wise man once added the shortened form of "bourgeois"
{"bougey" {büzh-ee}}
to his everyday vocabulary so that he could more easily use it as a way of classifying eating places,
usually in the negative sense.
{ex. "even the waffles truck is a little bougey"}

this wise man {ok, we'll call him chris}
came to the city, like me, with the zagat top lists memorized and had every intention of trying all of [them bougey places] until, 
as legend has it,
he discovered 
the other places. 
the authentic,
other place.

and so when chris,
our friend
{whose claim to fame is that he once made the bold, and possibly quite genius claim that jj's hot dogs is a better culinary experience than per se}
pardon me
saw that my restaurant list was all momofuku-ed and jean george-d out, they said,

"we're going to umi no ie."

and the rest is history...

{if chris and luke and jeff made a cd of percussion trio music this might be the cover.}

so let's talk about food.

uminoie is japanese.
it is not sushi a go go or whatevs,
it is not bring your prom date to benihana,
but rather, 
it is the japanese equivalent to your jewish mother's matzoh ball soup and the challah bread {holla!} she baked fresh to dunk in it, and, of course, the brisket. 

it's comforting and it's home style...

and these udon noodles are what "homegirl's grandmother taught her to make when she was seven." thanks, chris


now since we literally ordered every single menu item,
i'll discuss the highlights.

first to come out was the
squid marinated in its own liver sauce.
{this is not an april fools' joke}

when my first instinct was to run the other way,
i was immediately harassed by jeff 
who informed me that,
because i have a {mostly} food blog,
will be trying everything that they order
and i will not have a choice.

and he was right. 

and so on the count of three
i ate squid.
and it was reminiscent of a gummi bear that had been sitting out for a day,
with the flavor of licorice,
and then a strong little punch at the end.
enjoyable indeed,
albeit a little scary. 

next up was
dried fin of manta ray, served with mayo

chris is convinced that, 
whereas americans use pretzels and chips simply as a vehicle with which to eat salt,
manta ray fins are an excuse for japanese people to eat mayonnaise. 
because apparently 
i imagine that if i were a 14 year old japanese boy,
washing up on the beach after an afternoon of surfing,
i would reach for these instead of doritos. 
森=モリー、ごめん はは
they had the consistency of fruit leather,
and the taste of salt, a hint of fishiness,
and a glob of mayo. 

another fave
fried chicken

{thankfully/sneakily jeff got two orders...}

there's not much to say about it,
except that, if my memory serves me right,
i'm pretty sure this sparked a conversation on the kfc double down. 

these two photos are further evidence that the japanese really enjoy their omelets.
as a youth,
my protocol for going to a sushi restaurant was ordering about 50 pieces of tamago.
loved the stuff.
but these omelets just took it a few steps further:

the top had bitter melon,
and bonito flakes

and the bottom had eel
{yes, another food virginity broken}

...if you've never had bitter melon,
i highly suggest that you forget about the fact that it's called "melon,"
maybe rename it to "bitter weird carroty thing,"
or something,
and then try it.
there's really nothing like it.

another source of tastiness was 
meatballs + eggs
didn't dare ask what kind of meat these were made out of,
but they were very similar to their italian counterpart.

luke, jeff,
"divine"© jeff irving
egg rolls

...and the pièce de résistance...
pork belly.

let's get a close up on the top left, shall we?

i assure you two things:

1. my obsession with this dish was not just because it was served with hot mustard
2. this sad little glob was not the limit to my mustard intake,
because, thankfully, friends don't let friend deprive of mustard
{not pictured: xtra side of mustard}

i mean,
this pork belly,
while it looks like a total mess,
was one of the tastiest,
pieces of meat i've ever bitten in to
{keep it appropriate, boys}

it was like meat,
in marshmallow form.

i couldn't get enough of it.
except for when i accidentally ate a whole chunk of fat.
but that's besides the point.
the point is,
it was delicious,
and one of the main roles in why 
this meal was one of the most satisfying meals i've ever had ever ever ever ever ever

{the plum rice balls helped too}

did i mention we sat on the floor with our shoes off?
and that in the back,
there is this shelf where customers who don't finish their bottle of shochu can label it and store it for next time?
and that this place is open late?!
{an ode to restaurants that are open late, part 2 perhaps...}

this place is the greatest.
it's probably one of new york's best kept secrets.
no joke,
if most of you readers didn't hail from other states and australia and england,
i might not have even posted about umi no ie. 
 if this post gets into the wrong hands,
we may all be in trouble,
so keep it on the down low, people,
and go here as soon as you can.

...36 to go...



and a special thanks to chris for adding the japanese characters!!!

umi no ie is located in the east village, at e. 3rd and 1st ave
open m-th 7pm to 1am, f-sat 7pm to 2am, sun 7pm to 12am