Texas-Size Bento at Umai

Umai Japanese (8400 Bellaire Boulevard) opened quietly just a few months ago. We discovered this wonderful restaurant from a friend's recommendation and decided to give it a shot. The interior is brilliant; clearly, the designer put a lot of thought into making the interior space welcoming and contemporary. Our outing took place later in the evening, and the intimate interior was a great place to take a date.

The prices were incredibly reasonable as well, which really took us aback. Umai offers a chef's special daily, as well as Japanese beer at bargain prices. The full menu really has something to offer everyone and includes Umai's special take on the bento box(pictured above), which are called "sets" here. They were huge! We ordered the eel set, and it came with kimchee, miso soup, three different mini appetizers, salad, rice and an incredible veggie tempura, all for under $12. We haven't experienced a deal like this since Beaver's lunch special.

The eel was fresh and cooked just right, and complemented the box set's appetizers perfectly. We usually split meals of this proportion but found ourselves not wanting to share the crunchy fried vegetables or kimchee. Finding an intimate but affordable dinner spot has gotten us very excited for Umai's future.

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