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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Umaido and Blue Fin Sushi



Happy Thanksgiving! Today, let me tell you about something that will taste very good this weekend after feasting on turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pie.

It is ramen — not ramen from a crinkly package but from a steaming bowl in a Japanese restaurant.

Earlier in this series, I visited two restaurants that serve Vietnamese pho, which is made with rice-flour noodles in a clear beef soup.

Ramen is served with wheat-four noodles in a soup made of chicken, pork or combination of the two. The broth can range from pale, to soy-dark to milky white depending on what style it is.

If I can make one flaky comparison of these two Asian soups, it is this:

Pho, with its sweet spices and fresh greenery is cooling. It’s the kind of hot soup that tastes best to me on a sunny afternoon or a summer evening. Ramen is warming. It flicks the comfort-food switch in your head like no other food can on an overcast fall day.

umaido1Umaido in Suwanee is the only local restaurant I know of that makes the noodles in house. (This location is a branch of a restaurant in Korea, where the Japanese noodles are popular.) Indeed, you can see through a viewing window into the kitchen by the entrance and see a fancy piece of noodle machinery holding a spool with the dough furled up like a giant roll of paper towels.

You can watch the whole process as the noodles are cut, parboiled and baptised in soup scooped from giant cauldrons.

I visited Umaido soon after it opened a few months ago and generally liked the different varieties of ramen on the menu. For whatever reason, I liked it in my head more than my heart. Were the noodles a little too springy? Was the broth a little thin?

I wasn’t sure. But I am sure that the food was 100% better on this visit. The kitchen has wisely stopped trying to prepare different kinds of broth and focused on making only tonkotsu ramen , a style from the  Japanese island of Kyushu.

Tonkotsu broth is the milky white one, made with pork bones. It has loads of collagen, which clouds the broth and gives it an incomparable richness.

umaido3You can get the basic tonkotsu ramen ($6.99), as well as miso ($7.99) and spicy varieties ($8.99). Each bowl comes with slivers of gorgeously fatty pork belly called chashu, green onions, tree ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, beni shoga (pickled red ginger) and one soy-cooked egg that looks like chocolate on the surface and gushes just slightly in the center. It is an egg to love unconditionally.

umaido4There are tons of condiments with which you can dress your ramen here. (I think this profusion is more of a Korean than Japanese thing.) Choose from hot oil, soy sauce, ginger, fresh garlic to press and toasted sesame seeds in a mill. Please let my friend demonstrate:

Also, if you like, you can order more of anything, from the meat to the noodles to the egg.

If that’s not enough to recommend Umaido, there’s also a bidet in the lavatory:

umaido2How about that?

Umaido is open daily for lunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and dinner (5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.)

Since I was up at Umaido, I decided to visit another Japanese restaurant that had been highly recommended by the blogger and Northside food queen, Chloe, at

I was intrigued by her post on Blue Fin Sushi, in which she said that local Japanese chefs consider the ramen here very good.

We arrived to find the restaurant a little busy and understaffed, but with a mostly Japanese clientele.

bluefin3All meals here start with a serviceable California roll. Whatever…

bluefin2The miso ramen ($9) was an enormous portion, and held lots of hacked up vegges and meat bits in a thin, salty broth.

bluefin1The shoyu ramen ($9) — with its salty, soy-darkened broth — was better and served in the traditional style with pickled bamboo shoots. The chashu here is rolled, so the layers of meat and fat melt and commingle nicely on the tongue. You want to savor each of the pieces. The restaurant also makes a tonkotsu ramen, which is available only at night.

I might try it one of these days. However, I’d have a hard time being in the area and not visiting Umaido.

9 comments Add your comment

Thomas SENOR

November 26th, 2009
12:24 pm

I don’t want the 30 days to end. BTW, eat at Pappi’s! One is near your house!


November 26th, 2009
5:59 pm

happy thanksgiving
please keep the series going
I have only tried a few of these restaurants but have to disagree with your Jerusalem Bakery review. I went there Tuesday on your recommendation and was very disappointed in the falafel as well
as the Greek salad.
Keep up the good work


November 26th, 2009
8:17 pm

I’ve LOVED the 30 days series. While it would be tough to keep up the pace, it would be great if you can post semi-regularly on restaurants, especially the smaller hidden gems or “best of” restaurants. Even if you are no longer anonymous, IMHO you are still the best food critic in these parts. When we go out, it’s pretty much mainly for the food, and most of the time the scene is not that relevant (unless, of course, it’s unpleasant). By actually focusing on the food, your reviews help those of us who don’t get to Atlanta all that often know where we can best make use of our limited dining opportunities — including smaller ethnic places that we otherwise probably wouldn’t find.

Loved your Sunday column about Atlanta dining then and now. Spot on, as always. Tell the powers that be that your Sunday column is the only reason we make a special trip, driving 15 minutes to the next county to buy the Sunday paper. (Like liquor, the AJC is verbotten in our county….)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


November 26th, 2009
10:30 pm

thomas senor do you own Papis? Someone keeps bringing it up and the last time I ate there (October 2009) it was horrible and I swore it off for good. How in the heck do you get a hair in the batter with a french fry – not sure, but it happened at Papi’s. Also their cubans taste like something I ate in the lunchroom at public school 30 years ago. Wish it were better, but it isn’t.

Thomas SENOR

November 27th, 2009
7:41 am

No I do no own this place, but I love it. It’s near my house and I simply love it. Yummy Yummy Yummy to Thomas’s tummy! Eat at Pappis! You can thank me later.

Steven A.

December 2nd, 2009
12:45 pm

Yes! Thank you for covering Umaido, a place we have been trekking up to for months (from Decatur). When you began the 30 Days series, I had a sneaking suspicion Umaido would be included. I’ve been singing its praises on Atlanta Cuisine and elsewhere since the get go. As a dedicated ramen-ya, it is the only creature of its kind in (near?) Atlanta, and deserves the support of the city’s foodie community. It is so worth the drive!

Incidentally, the above comments have helped ensure that I will never ever set foot in Pappi’s.

[...] have always liked the broth at Umaido in Suwanee just the way it is. But I do sometimes hear from ramenaniacs who find the tonkotsu pork [...]

Umaido Ramen | shortstack : online

June 1st, 2010
10:53 am

[...] Umaido Reviews ( BlissfulGlutton | John Kessler | EatDrinkManWoman | ChowDown Atlanta ) // Share| June 1, 2010 at 10:43 am by shortstack [...]

abunasab jubran

August 20th, 2010
7:46 pm

You missed a very important Falafel outlet in marietta, Basil Wraps Mediterranean cuisine at 2800 Canton Rd. You have to try the Falafel and Babaghanouj or hummus. yam yum. I eat at that restaurant every Mr John Kessler go and try lunch and let me know…