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All photos by Yoko Kumano and Vanessa Bahmani,


I've been running Umamimart for over four years now (since February 2007), bringing together people from all over the world to share their personal experiences through food and drinks. It has gone through several manifestations, and has seen many writers come and go.

Umamimart now consists of ten core writers, many of whom have been here from the very beginning (Yoko, Yamahomo and Erin). Paystyle started Happy Hour in 2008. Although I live in the Bay Area now, New York City remains as an essential part of Umamimart. It is where it was born, and most of the writers live there.

So when Anders (Umamimart writer since 2009) announced he was coming to the States to visit Yoko, it was then decided that we all meet up in NYC. Yamahomo graciously offered to host a dinner party for all the present Umamimart writers while we were in town. This would be an epic Umamimart event--to all meet over a Yamahomo meal in REAL LIFE!! As the editor of this blog, it has always been a dream of mine for everyone to meet someday. We all have such distinct personalities, but I always knew we would get along. We are Umamimart, afterall.

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Menu by Yamahomo.

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Duck sous-vide with pickled ramps and rhubarb jam.

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Nate + Anders.

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Chez Yamahomo rooftop. It was a gorgeous evening.

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Yamahomo + Anders.

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Washi loved the New York life.

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Yamahomo had asked Paystyle to come up with a cocktail pairing for each course. And he did. INCREDIBLE!

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Paystyle + me.

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Course 1: DA BOMB: Natto, uni, tuna, okura, mountain yam, wrapped in nori.

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The uni was hand-shucked by Yamahomo!!! From this:

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To this:

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UNI PORN!

Until the mixing begins. This was actually a little painful to watch--I should have grabbed that uni and eaten it in the corner.

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Yamahomo + Nate.

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DA BOMB!

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Imagine the flavors of the sea, with the crunch from the mountain potato, and all the slime, in one bite. It really is unlike anything you will ever eat--so pillowy and luxurious.

We had the Bouncing with Bud cocktail and Adonis: Shochu, Amontillado sherry, celery-lovage bitters and Sweet vermouth, Amontillado sherry, orange bitters (respectively).

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The cocktails were light and sprightly. A perfect beginning.

Course 2: WICKED WITCH SOUP: Pea, basil and potato vichyssoise with leaks and onions.

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Excellent! A chilled soup was perfect for the warm evening and the flavors were all so subtle. It was like riding a wave.

Cocktail pairing: The Artist's Special: Bourbon, Amontillado sherry, lemon, creme de cassis.

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Course 3: STINKY P.: Grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, balsamic reduction.

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It was Derby Day, so we went with a Mint Julep to pair with the Stinky P.

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The mint added a refreshing dimension to this dish.

Stinky P. get it?? Get it???

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Course 4: PINKEYE: Salmon tartare with mango red onion and cucumber, sesame vinaigrette in a crispy potato cup.

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This was absolutely GENIUS. Yamahomo sliced potatoes and then simply baked them in little tin cups. It was the perfect crisp against the salmon tartare. Brilliant.

Cocktail pairing: Italian Be-Bop: Bubbly with a dash of Campari.

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Exquisite.

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Course 5: RA(M)P'N SCALLOP: Pickled ramp, scallop with Japanese mustard, miso and vinegar sauce.

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Paired with a simple California Chardonnay that Washi and Yoko brought.

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This may have been everyone's favorite dish. It was so simple and to the point. The pickles balanced the mustard, which all enhanced the sea flavors of the scallop. The wine, which was crisp and on the lighter side (for a California Chard) was an excellent pairing.

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Course 6: PIG IN JAPAN: Sous-vide pork loin with braised red cabbage.

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To go with this final dish, Paystyle and I made the Sherry Cobbler: Amontillado sherry, raspberries, lemon, sugar.

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Yamahomo's famous faglicious glasses.

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A fun, lively pairing to the pork.

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Looking back, the pork might have been my favorite, actually--it was so full of flavor, and tender, yet the lightness really surprised me. Another brilliant dish, and a fantastic way to end the meal.

Yamahomo is indeed reMARTHABLE. The dishes were all gorgeously plated, and timed perfectly. And as the hostess with the mostess, he was calm and collected throughout the dinner, never harried. The portions were spot-on as well--we all left feeling great, not too full, not hungry. He's a pro.

And Paystyle's cocktail wizardry cannot go unignored. He came up with drinks that not only paired well with each dish, but enhanced it all without ever interfering with Yamahomo's flavors. The sherry cocktails were crisp, while the bourbon more substantial, adding weight to the dishes. The dinner was like an Umamimart orchestra--we all added our spunky personalities to the mix, but it all came out finely-tuned and perfectly balanced.

Desserts were Yamahomo's Greatest Hits.

MOcarons!

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MOdelaines!

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Natto Sandwiches
!

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Choux!

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As we continued to get drunk throughout the meal and onto dessert, we had racous conversations about Umamimart, its evolution through the years, and our all-time favorite posts. It all made me want to cry from happiness.

Washi + Anders.

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Yamahomo + Anders + Creepy Bunny.

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YOKO!

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I cut myself, mandolin style.

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Yamahomo + Me!


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Vanessa + Paystyle.

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Anders!

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Me + Yamahomo.

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This was truly a special evening, and I would say one of the most meaningful dinners of my life. This is my Umamimart Family!!! To have us all sitting at a table, eating real Yamahomo food, with drinks customized by Paystyle--well, it was a dream come true.

One key person was missing, however: Erin. Sadly, she could not make it, as her fiance had just been ordained as a rabbi (!!!). But I do hope that there will be another chance for us to all meet again. Umamimart Five Year Anniversary Party, anyone??? Maybe this time, in California.

Funny story--Yamahomo, who is a fanatical vodka martini drinker, did not have any vodka all night. In my heart of hearts, I hope we turned him into a bourbon drinker. Hooray!
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13 comments

  • This dinner was so amazing and fun to photograph. I don’t really remember what we all talked about, but it was the best night I had during my trip in New York. I finally got to see everyone’s lovely faces in 3-D without those silly glasses. I was also so happy to try the “MO” line. I thought about stealing some and stuffing them into my purse, but then thought it would be risky because Yamahomo would know where to find me… online.

    yoko on

  • some of these photos are by Vanessa!!!

    yoko on

  • Tears running down my cheeks right now, Kayoko. Well done! I am so happy everyone enjoyed the meal, and documented so well (unlike my crappy photograph). Yes, I was a bit scared of non-vodka drinks, but they were all fantastic. Seeing all the drinks/food online is one thing, but I was so happy some people finally got to eat my crazy creations! I AM REMARTHABLE, DAMN IT!

    yamahomo on

  • This is lovely. Yamahomo is brilliant, my mouth is watering. I am down for 5 years from now, how bout in Brazil eh?

    Bryan on

  • What I totally forgot was to ask Vanessa/Yoko how to take better picture with my camera… Until that day comes, my shitty pictures will continue, sadly… Also as Kayoko said, maybe, it was too luxurious to mix in all these uni in da bomb. I should have left some to top it off….

    yamahomo on

  • I love NYC!
    I was so happy being there!
    Thanks UMAMIMART!

    Washi on

  • What a fantastic night for everyone! The food and drinks look like what you would find in any top notch restaurant, even better – SO impressive. And it’s lovely to see everyone who makes Umamimart what it is all together in one place. I wanna be there for the next one!

    sakura on

  • Kayoko and everyone: thank you so much for a great evening – it truly felt like dining at a 7 star restaurant with your best mates.

    GOD, I LOOK SO HUNGOVER ON ALL THE PICS! I wonder why, Yam’Homo! No more extreme gay NYC clubbing for me this year!

    I say, 2 year reunion party in Denmark, so cold, windy and exotically Scandinavian that you guys can’t resist.

    Anders on

  • It truly was an incredible night. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Like Yoko, I can’t really remember all that we talked about—I was pretty overwhelmed the entire time (and increasingly tipsy as the night moved forward).

    Umamimart is a very special place, that gets its energy and dynamism from all the firecrackers who are the writers.

    But we get our motivation from our readers too! Thanks to everyone who has passed supported Umamimart through the years. You are all cherished!

    Kayoko on

  • Incredible menu and photos! Bravo UM!

    kiwa on

  • Saaara, seriously? I will totally come to LA to cater a dinner party!!!!!

    Yamahomo on

  • This might be the fanciest dinner party I have ever witnessed. I think this might need to be recreated in a future LA umamiventure. I will pay for Yamahomo’s ticket. Loved that you guys got to celebrate all the amazing work you do!!

    saaara on

  • OMG, this is seriously ridic…Yamahomo I think I am in LOVE WITH YOU…it is probably just the uni porn, but STILL!
    This is is beautiful and incredible. Kayoko you have really created a wonderful community ARIGATO! I am coming for you NYC, I am going to eat my way through that damn city!

    Tomo on

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