Umi: Fresh Fish with No Frills

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I moved to Dogpatch about eight years ago and hated it.  It seemed far away from my previous Downtown home.  I was used to rolling out of bed and having everything I needed within walking distance.  Food is my raison d’être; my biggest worry was finding new restaurants.  

I went on a date at a sushi restaurant in my new neighborhood and fell in love.  Not with the guy but with the eatery and Dogpatch. The place was large and packed, full of energy and laughter. The staff was friendly, the food, which included many unique rolls, excellent.  

The experience motivated me to explore the neighborhood’s other great bars and restaurants. I’ve spent the last four-fifths of a decade doing just that.  

It’d been a while since I’d returned to the sushi spot that sparked my love for the community. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to revisit it, but when I arrived I realized I’d gone astray.  I couldn’t remember the restaurant’s name. I’d done a quick Google search and ended up in the wrong place. Instead of the spacious, energic restaurant I remembered, I was at Umi, an almost literal hole-in-the-wall on 18th Street in Potrero Hill. Walking into the small space I was greeted by the sushi chefs and cashier on the right. On the left was a small seating area. Not want I’d expected, but it was a pleasantly cozy setting.  

I ordered Inari as an appetizer, a simple dish that’s hard to get wrong.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The little rice-filled tofu pockets were sufficiently delicious that I ordered another batch.  

There were so many interesting sushi rolls on the menu that it was hard to choose.  These included the Shamus Roll, with shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna and avocado; and a California Roll topped with salmon, sliced lemon, and ponzu sauce called the “Golden Dragon.”  Donburi was on offer – a rice bowl with a choice of meat or fish with veggies and eggs – one of my favorite dishes. 

I ordered the Potrero Roll: tuna topped with salmon and avocado served with spicy, garlic chili sauce.  The fish tasted incredibly fresh; the different flavors complemented each other nicely. The garlic chili sauce was a great addition, not overpowering, adding the perfect amount of spice. 

Stumbling upon Umi ended up being a delicious mistake.  The food was great, the cozy atmosphere perfect. I’ll be returning soon for the donburi.