It’s the rise and rise of Pan-Asian eateries in Karachi. And Karachiites have spoken. Hot-oil noodle bowls, dumplings, ramen, fried Korean chicken and Chinese dim sums have officially become what we call the ‘comfort food’ for all.
While the noodle obsession is still coming strong, the newest treat in town is *drum rolls* DUMPLINGS!
And indeed, it was my quest for dumplings that lead me to a new food stall at the K-Eat Food Festival. Umami – read the board. And oh boy their Chicken Dumplings stirred a riot of flavors on the taste buds!
Fast-forward to a few months, I was delighted to see Umami doing deliveries and takeaways online. What followed next was a gastronomical feast of some great Pan-Asian cuisine options, that too in a budget!
Here’s a breakdown of everything I ordered and which items I’d highly recommend.
Shoyu Butter Noodles
Mushrooms in buttery egg noodles? This was a first for me. While I am used to shitake in creamy Alfredo, pairing it with noodles had me sceptical. Salty-savoury with just a hint of sweetness, the shoyu sauce coated the egg noodles well, packing a balance of flavors, which not all noodle bowls get right. Shitake mushrooms made for an unexpected appearance but turned out to be the star ingredient of the dish.
I do wish the chef had tossed some spicy chicken into the mix, but you can get an add-on of pan-seared chicken (probably katsu?) to your order.
Priced at: Rs 820
My rating: 8/10
Umami’s hot-seller fresh off their K-Eat Festival fame are their dumplings, and they certainly live up to the hype.
As a serial dumpling eater (I have a personal record of eating 9 dumplings in a row!), I speak from experience: two elements make a dumpling worth eating: the filling and the sauce. And Umami nails both here. Each bite was an explosion of flavors – spicy, saucy, tangy, and something sweet, no note too strong to overpower the other. The steamed chicken filling paired well with the chilli oil sauce the dumplings were doused in. They were six dumplings, and sadly, I had to share them with family, leaving me craving for more. Umami allows you to choose a ‘less spicy’ option too.
If you are to order one dish off this review on my recommendation, let it be the chicken dumplings.
Price: Rs 620
Another hot dim sum item that was a delight to take in was prawn shumai. In the guise of a dumpling, but somehow better, the shumai looked no less than a culinary masterpiece – call it food art. Stuffed with yummy, steamed prawns and paired with a semi-sweet chilli lime dip, it was a big hit on the table.
Prawn Shumai makes for that star appetizer you must order to impress your special guest and add a highlight to your dining spread.
My rating: 10/10
Price: Rs 740
As an avid Pan-Asian cuisine enthusiast, I vouch for Crispy Beef to be a popular, most frequently ordered dish from the mains. However, most eateries go wrong with over-frying the beef, making it a tad bit chewy. No one likes over-chewy beef! Thankfully Umami got this one right too. Beef strips were tossed in a delectable sweet-savory sauce. I did wish it was a bit spicier, but then again you can adjust the spice level while ordering this main too.
The quantity was less for the price, considering this was the main dish.
Sticky Sesame Chicken
Stir-fry chicken dusted with ample sesame seeds, is a deal-seal situation. Another favorite, packed with flavors, just the right kind of sticky and saucy. I recommend going a little rogue and choosing the ‘spicy’ option while ordering this.
If you are new to the realm of delectable pan-Asian cuisine but don’t want to do too experimental, Sesame Chicken is a good, sticky start.
Price: Rs 665
Egg Fried Rice
I paired this mostly with the main dishes – crispy beef and sesame chicken. The rice was an unexpected disappointment. Maybe it was just an odd batch of rice they used, but I found the grains to be broken. Apart from the grains, the flavor was overall okay-ish. I would have also liked more scrambled eggs in the mix.
Price: Rs 470
Umami is currently doing deliveries in limited areas, but you can always arrange delivery through Bykea (I did). Or opt for a takeaway.
Kudos to food festivals like Karachi Eat which bring out the best eateries to the forefront!
Pan-Asian n chill!