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HomeNewsLocal newsUmami Sushi Restaurant is One-of-Its-Kind at Northside Five Corners

Umami Sushi Restaurant is One-of-Its-Kind at Northside Five Corners

Umami Sushi Restaurant at Northside Five Corners. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Umami Restaurant at Five Corners on the northside of Christiansted is the one and only Sushi Restaurant on the island of St. Croix. The attempt at a soft opening in March did not happen. Chef/owner Ashley McKinnon was busy hiring twice as many people to serve the huge crowd when she opened her doors. 

Umami [pronounced oo-ma-mee] offers take-out only. There is seating in the brightly lit restaurant and outside on the patio for diners who would like to enjoy their food orders on-site. 

Chef Ashley likes the idea of satisfying her customers with great take-out while eliminating the expense of fine dining. ”We keep it simple with our priorities high and we serve the best possible product. We have wonderful people who work the counter. We’re still giving great service, just not full service,” she said. 

The sushi offerings are great at Umami, Chef Ashley said. People are under the misconception that all sushi is raw. It’s not! The word sushi actually means vinegar and rice, not raw fish. 

Umami has all kinds of combinations with cooked shrimp and cooked crab. “We have beautiful combinations of raw hamachi, salmon, or local tuna. There are vegan and vegetarian items, as well. There is something for everyone. Seaweed salad, edamame, and other appetizers are on the menu.”

Umami sources their desserts from longtime baker Erin Saunders. Erin’s rum cakes sell out so quickly and In House Desserts’ cheesecakes are a bit hit on our menu, Chef Ashley said.

Rum Cake baker Erin Saunders and Umami Chef Ashley at counter with Cruzan Chocolate Rum Cake. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Saunders said, “I love to bake. I’ve been doing it for so long; it evolved into a business.” My specialties are a Chocolate Rum Cake with Cruzan Coconut Rum and chocolate and a Pineapple Rum Cake with Cruzan Pineapple Rum. Saunders’ baked goods are on the menus at No Bones Restaurant in Gallows Bay and Z Cafe in the Pentheny Courtyard in downtown Christiansted. 

The bar at Umami boasts a full line of beer, wine, sake, and non-alcoholic beverages. “We make our own iced tea and a fun sake cocktail using in-season mango or passion fruit. We’re all about using whatever is fresh and local in fish and produce.”

Chef Ashley picked Umami’s spot for the location and built the business around it. There’s ample parking and it’s super convenient to Eastend, Westend, Christiansted, and mid-island…right in the middle, she said.

Sushi aficionados may remember Dashi Restaurant in the Caravelle Arcade. Michael and Ashley McKinnon opened Dashi in 2005. Ashley gained restaurant experience when she was in her early 20s, which was a good foundation for her expertise at Dashi. When Ashley left Dashi, she worked at catering, doing pop-ups, and cheffed with Mexican, French and Sushi menus. She offered sushi rolling classes and will offer them again at Umami in the near future.

Although it’s slower now with “off-season,” Chef Ashley is getting ready for a busy season. “We want to establish our local clients because they’re the most important to us.”

From left, Amber Ihrig, Chef Ashley, Sushi Prep Jasmine Landeau, and Sushi Chef Cody Garcia strike a pose. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Chef Ashley credits her late husband, Michael, for her success. “I would not be where I am today if not for him,” she said.

“We lost Michael in December, so without all the help during this difficult time, I could never have made it,” Chef Ashley said. Friends, family, and random community members helped her in countless ways to get the doors open at Umami, she said. “Michael is widely loved and respected on this island and it shows in the community support we have received.”

Abdul Mustafa is a “regular” at Umami. He came in with his children shortly before closing and ordered his usual spicy tuna roll and an eel roll. His daughter Lamees likes the cucumber roll. “The sushi here is very good, he said. “I keep coming back for more.”

Umami customer Abdul Mustafa and his daughter Lamees order takeout.
(Photo by Elisa McKay)

Cody Garcia is Umami’s Sushi Chef. “He’s been with us off and on for 10 or more years, Chef Ashley said. Jasmine Landeau is the Sushi Prep. She prepares the Nori sheets [edible seaweed] with cooked rice that Sushi Chef Cody rolls with the various fish and/or veggie fillings.

Sushi Chef Cody Garcia rolls Sushi for takeout. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Jasmine is a culinary student at Harkness Career and Technical Center in Buffalo, NY. She grew up on St. Croix and comes back home during holidays and summer break to keep up her skills. She has one more year toward her two-year culinary certification.

Sushi Prep Jasmine Landeau works the rice and nori for rolling. (Photo by Elisa McKay)

General Manager Amber Ihrig is perfect in fulfilling your ordering needs. Her bright smile and managerial skills make an Umami visit a satisfying experience. 

Umami is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

For more information:
Call Umami 340-718-2100
umamistx.com (for online orders)
amber.umami@gmail.com (for Amber Ihrig)
www.boomerangeats.com (for delivery)
cruzancakesbyerin@gmail.com (for Erin’s Rum Cakes)
Orders@inhousedesserts.com (for In House Desserts Cheesecakes)


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