Umami? [Moved from San Francisco]
[[ This thread was moved from the San Francisco board, since it was more about umami as a flavour than a restaurant. To discuss Umami the restaurant, please see this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/352398 -- The Chowhound Team ]]
Has anyone heard anything about this place? I think it might not be open yet.
By the way, there was a fascinating article in Gastronomica a little while back with an argument that umami's status as some kind of basic flavor was actually the result of a self-serving PR campaign by Ajinomoto to get regulators to recognize MSG as a flavoring rather than a chemical additive.
You know, Ajinomoto is a pretty powerful lobbying force, so I'm not surprised about the article. As for the restaurant, sorry, haven't been there.
For a classic exploration of umami, and its role in the food industry, see Malcom Gladwell's essay in the New Yorker:
"There are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Umami is the proteiny, full-bodied taste of chicken soup, or cured meat, or fish stock, or aged cheese, or mother's milk, or soy sauce, or mushrooms, or seaweed, or cooked tomato. "Umami adds body," Gary Beauchamp, who heads the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, says. "If you add it to a soup, it makes the soup seem like it's thicker—it gives it sensory heft."