EVERETT — For the busy college student, Umami may be the next best thing to a waived exam.
The poke and sushi burrito restaurant opened this summer at the north end of town. When Everett Community College and Washington State University students return for fall quarter, they’ll find the little spot across 9th Street beckoning them with its quick-to-order bowls and rolls. They can even order online and just pay and head back to campus.
Think of Umami like a Subway; all the ingredients and options are behind a glass window counter for your inspection and selection. It lets you judge the color of the fish, salad, avocado and whatever else you may wish to grace your dish.
“I love the idea of knowing what you’re getting in your dish,” Everett resident Steven Graham said. He and his wife, Amber Ditto, met me there for a Friday night bite.
We found the menu immediately appealing to our myriad preferences.
Steven and Heather picked poke, the Hawaiian favorite that’s a combination of rice, salad, seaweed and seafood (typically raw but sometimes cooked). Steven started with a half-rice, half-salad base, topped that with albacore tuna and yellowtail, then loaded the bowl with carrots, cucumbers, mango and crunchy tempura flakes — all graced with hefty dousing of a sweet poke sauce. Amber ordered hers with rice, tuna, tako (octopus), piled high with seaweed salad, masago (smelt roe) and avocado.
The tuna’s ruby-red color was hard to pass up, and we both wanted to see how the octopus would fare. The tuna was excellent, with firm flesh and the umami (a Japanese word for the savory taste associated with meat) flavor that’s the restaurant’s namesake. The tako texture was nice and soft — not too chewy, as octopus meat can be. The lightly salty flavor was like a faint wisp of sea air on the breeze. It was quickly overwhelmed by the sriracha Amber chose to top her bowl.
She liked the speedy ordering and delivery of her bowl, the variety of proteins and toppings, the overall flavor and the friendly staff behind the counter. She took issue with the seaweed salad, which was more limp than she would have liked. She also recommends asking the counter staff to go light on the sauce if you choose one to top your bowl or burrito.
Chicken karaage, a Japanese version of fried chicken that uses potato or corn starch, was on the menu, so we ordered it in a continuation of my year of seeking out great wings. It was precisely what I wanted. The fried batter was well-seasoned and had a great crunchy bite, and the meat was tender and delicious. The sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce was nice but unnecessary because of the great flavor already there.
“It’s at the other end of town from where I live, but I would make that drive for the chicken alone,” Steven said.
I’m glad I live on the end of town that makes visiting Umami a really quick trip.
If you go
Umami, 902 N. Broadway Ave., Everett, is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-259-5545 or go to umamieverett.5menucities.com for more information.