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.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.