Want to try out a Southwest–infused Asian sushi bar? There’s one now in mid-town call Umi Star. Umi means the “sea” in Japanese, and this small upscale, modernish restaurant and sushi bar is on the NE corner of Water St. and Campbell Ave. with large glass windows and a cool, blue décor. I liked the gray wall covered with metal sea urchins, and the hanging underwater lamps for lighting , ten wooden tables & cabin crew chairs & fixtures. The corals on the shelf also gave it an “under the sea” feel.
Umi Star has a unique, creative menu such as Chuka Salad (marinated seaweed salad with sesame seeds and spun beets), lots of hand crafted sushi rolls (i.e. Sushi Burrito made from shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, crab and cream cheese, wrapped in soy paper and served with a sushi salsa), and an assortment of tapas. Unusual to say the least for a sushi bar, but they all sounded enticing.
I tried the Sushi Assortment Lunch for $10, and got to choose a selection from 3 categories of roll, nigiri, and salad. My dish was well prepared and tasty: 8 pieces of spicy tuna roll, 2 pieces of yellowtail (hamachi) nigiri, and an exquisite squid salad (with sesame seeds and seaweed). No complaints there, as the portions were delicious and adequate. And I love seaweed having grown up in Hawaii.
Two friends walked in, David & Maxine, who wanted to try the Southwest selections, so they chose one each of the Asian Street Tacos (chicken or beef tri tip), which came with a spun cucumber, ginger cabbage slaw, cilantro and sambal aioli. Maxine said it was “seasoned with a bite”, and a “light refreshing lunch” for $6 each. They also shared an order of edamame (cooked soy beans), seasoned with sesame oil and Polynesian sea salt, which I sampled and it was superb.
This new restaurant just opened in August, 2012 and according to our friendly waitress Laura, serves fresh tortillas from La Mesa Tortilla Company and fresh bread from La Baguette Bakery (must be for the Asian Style Hot Dogs on the menu). Everything seemed very fresh and creatively hand made.
Check out their food/drink menu online (click here). Umi Star, an Asian Food Bar is at 2502 N. Campbell Ave., phone 520-777-4465, www.umistar.com. Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., closed Mondays.
Check out this new “star” in town.