Not ones to shy away from change, restaurant owners Kimberley and Grant Ryan have fully embraced it with their new restaurant Mr Umami’s on Pakington St. The Asian fusion restaurant, which occupies part of the Barking Dog, has cancelled the need for locals to travel all the way to Melbourne to get a decent serve of quality dumplings.
“There were no real quality dumplings anywhere, and there was nothing like your Chin Chin or Mr Miyagi’s like in Melbourne here in Geelong,” Amy Pug, Mr Umami’s spokesperson says. “We just felt there was a gap in the market, there wasn’t really anywhere in Geelong that gives that cool Asian venue.”
After months of planning since the idea was first conceived at the start of the year, Mr Umami’s opened to a thoroughly pleased crowd.
“They said that it tasted fresh, it had really good flavour and they just enjoyed sitting here. And it just had a great vibe. When the lights were on and the music was up it just provided the great atmosphere,” she says.
Fitted out with hanging pendulum lights, inviting wooden seats and pops of yellow, Mr Umami’s hits the Melbourne restaurant trends to a tee. A striking wall mural by Geelong illustrator Morgan Connoley brings the street art trend indoors.
At Mr Umami’s there’s obviously a strong focus on every aspect of the venue, and they’ve even enlisted a number of dumpling makers to come in and make the little delicacies by hand.
“Everything is handmade: our curries and sauces are all handmade. There’s nothing that’s frozen or brought in, because that freshness makes a huge difference, too,” Amy says.
Asian fusion is new for the well-respected venue, and while they’ve mastered quality pub food, a little research was needed for their new foodie venture.
“Asian is a whole different style, and there’s so much to learn. But we just sort of went by what we liked and then researched things. They’ve played around with different things for months and from that found things that worked,” she says.
The research has more than paid off with the versatile and exotic options that the restaurant has on offer. For something light, choose from spiced corn fritters, eggplant & tofu lettuce cups or the DIY pulled pork shoulder roll-up with apple slaw and aromatic herbs.
Mr Umami’s pays a strong focus on late night dinners with a tailored cocktail list to keep you going. Stick to the classics and try the massaman curry with melt-in-your-mouth coconut braised beef or something different with the crispy market fish with pressed pork and pickled papaya.
Also owners of the Clarendon, Hotel Cremorne, Bean Bandit and Parmi Bandi, Grant and Kimberley are clearly savvy when it comes to business decisions.
The new addition to the Barking Dog sees it offer a level of diversity unseen in any other venue in the region. Classic pub meals can be grabbed from the main restaurant – which is set for a renovation next year – while quality cocktails can be sipped through the night at Strasse. And now locals can take a culinary trip to Asia at Mr Umami’s.
The venue also runs regular event nights and Mr Umami’s is no exception to this. Each night an Asian film, at the moment Bruce Lee’s movies, are projected across the road onto an adjacent building for all to enjoy.
If anything, Mr Umami’s, and the Barking Dog as a whole, has created a one-spot destination for Geelong locals that simply has it all.
“We’re just hoping to give [customers] a relaxed, fun, casual experience, but with really fresh, authentic food,” Amy says.
126 Pakington St (Inside the Barking Dog)
By Amanda Sherring