Umai Restaurant

http://www.facebook.com/umai2008

Pulling up to this grand old building promises a dining experience of style and grandeur. At the front door you are greeted by towering sculptures that echo royalty. After all, Umai Restaurant is housed in Lichia Royal Garden Hotel.

The hotel boasts modern and elegant accommodations with a international flair. There are 7 different suite configuration ranging from US$100 – US$200 to choose from. It is ideally located in the heart of Taichung, close to the National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Calligraphy Greenway, Eslite Department Store, Luce Chapel, and The Pavilion at Taichung Park. A Business Center and Gym adds to the facility. Two restaurants grace the premise, Central Park, a Teppanyaki and Umai, a full service Japanese restaurant that allows guest to cook themselves or a la carte dining.

Enter the grand lobby to an amazing rotunda with classic high ceilings and furnishings fit for royalty. The front office agents are allowed seats behind the front desk. So elegant! To the left is the long aptly light entrance of Umai. The entire staff greets every arriving and departing guest, which makes for a ruckus and seemingly high energy restaurant. We were here for the grilling experience.

There are a couple of different menu choices depending on the size of your party and items you would like. However, for a place this fancy being in a swanky hotel with a full service bar I would have expected a full wine and sake list. My only let down was a house variety offered and an array of mixed drinks. We settled for a house sake which did not live up to the high energy ambiance.

After settling on a menu option, the grills were fired up and the food started to arrive. Several different servers came with different dishes. They initially placed a few items on the grill and let you take care of the rest. Our menu selection came with Chicken Soup, Soup with Salmon, Salad, Vegetable, Wagyu Beef Fingers, Supreme Wagyu Beef, Pork Shoulder Roast, Pork Neck, Italia Chicken, Argentine Red Shrimp, Hokkaido Scallops, Arctic Surf Clams, Green Tea, and Vanilla Ice Cream. Most of the meats were marinated lightly. The full flavors of the meat came out in each bite. I was especially surprised and delighted when the server replaced the grill after our first batch of grilling.

Team service seems to be the norm here. Although there are a lot of people milling around your table, it is never really clear who is the lead or the person in charge. No wonder everyone gets flagged down for anything. Although, no one said, “Not my job.” Every person responded to every request, be it through their ever present earpieces or personally.  It is very efficient to see  the staff communicating through these earpieces. Even though this restaurant is in a very serene setting, where I imagined a long leisurely dining, that is not the case. The staff is very efficient in turning the table. No lingering here. You finish eating? Get up! Time for the next guest. But not in a rude way. It seems like everyone actually understands this unwritten rule. I even got a birthday drink, of some sweet fizzy concoction.

Umai Restaurant seeks to satisfy the diner in an elegant international manner and I think they succeed. The restaurant’s décor is very serene and classy, their staff is very cordial and efficient, the food is of the freshest and best quality, and the restaurant is spotlessly clean. This is certainly a experience to remember.

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