Tuesday, August 11, 2009

U-Me: New Asian Cuisine in Stoneham

It surprises me sometimes how new local restaurants seem to hide under the radar of many local residents. I'll talk to local people about a new restaurant, that might have been open for a few months, and a significant number of those people did not even know the restaurant existed. This is especially true if the restaurant is not on the main street of the town.

U-Me, a new Asian restaurant in Stoneham is located on Franklin Street, across from a public parking lot. It is not too far from Main Street but still seems a bit off the beaten path. But it is worth seeking out. U-Me primarily serves Japanese, Thai and Korean cuisine as well as sushi. The Korean owners have operated two previous restaurants in Arlington and Cambridge and U-Me seems to be truly run as a family business.

When you walk into the restaurant, you will first be struck by the beauty of its decor. It is a beautiful place, with an elegant and tasteful look. It is actually fairly large, and a couple of the dining areas look out onto Franklin Street. Despite its elegance, it is not pretentious. It still has a homey feel, good enough for an intimate dinner for two or a family with several children.

Rather than sit at one of the tables, you can take a seat at the marble-topped sushi bar where you can watch the cooks prepare your nigiri, sashimi and makimono.

The bar is also marble-topped and there is a large-screen TV in the bar area. They have a full selection of liquor with a lengthy and diverse selection of cocktails, wine, beer and sake. Most of the cocktails, the martinis, polynesian drinks and others, cost about $7-11. There are about fifteen different wine choices, glasses at $7-9 and bottles at $22-$28.

There is a Happy Hour at the bar each day from 5-8pm with $3 appetizers (9 different ones available). They also have live jazz music on Thursday nights.

As a sake lover, I was pleased to see they carry six types of sake, ranging from $4-13, and a few being very tasty. Plus, they understand the best way to serve chilled sake. The small pitcher, pictured above, is chilled and has an interior pocket where ice can be placed. This keeps the sake chilled without diluting it with melting ice.

The food menu is extensive, including appetizers, salads, soups, noodle dishes, fried rice, curry dishes, teriyaki, tempura, and various special entrees. Prices are comparable to similar type restaurants. Though you can easily find Thai and Japanese cuisine elsewhere locally, you probably will have more difficulty locating Korean cuisine. And it may be tougher to find all three cuisines on the same menu.

They have a lengthy lunch menu, with nearly all dishes under $10. You might want to try one of their special Lunch Boxes ($9.95), which includes miso soup, salad, dumplings, rice and your choice of entree.

Their sushi seems fresh, is reasonably priced and they have a diverse selection of maki rolls. Above, starting in the top left hand corner and proceeding clockwise, you have Idaho Maki (fried sweet potato), Maguro (tuna), Unagi (eel), Tamago (egg) and Sake (salmon). The fish is good-sized though the amount of rice beneath the fish is a bit smaller than usual.

Of their Appetizers, my favorite choice is the Szechuan Wings ($6.95) which is pictured above. These are exceptionally good, pieces of fried chicken with a slightly sweet sauce that also has a tinge of spice. The crisp, crunchy batter is perfect, and rather addictive. It makes regular chicken wings seem so boring. It is almost impossible for me to go to U-Me and not get an order of these wings.

The Pa Jun ($7.95) may be better known to you as Scallion pancakes, and they are large, light and delicious with large, fresh scallions. As for other appetizers, I also would highly recommend the Dumplings ($5.95) and Shumai ($5.95).

As for entrees, I have not had a dish I did not enjoy. Their Pad Thai with Chicken ($8.95) was plentiful, fresh and very tasty. Their Masaman Curry with Beef ($11.95) is another excellent choice, the curry sauce having a nice coconut flavor to it and the beef was very tender. I am very picky about my shrimp tempura and U-Me's Shrimp Tempura ($14.95) passes my strict standards. The tempura batter is properly light and crisp, not the heavy covering lesser tempuras sometimes possess. The Crispy Chicken Basil ($12.95) is another winning dish, which comes with a sweet chili sauce.

The Galbi ($17.95), which is pictured above, is a famous Korean dish, grilled marinated short ribs. The dish consists of three long, thin strips of tender beef and a couple bones with a bit more meat. There is also a salad and some veggies. The beef was flavorful and sure to please any carnivore.

Service is very good and the waitstaff is very attentive. The variety and diverse selection available on their menu is compelling. Almost everyone should be able to find something they want. Plus, the delicious food should please most everyone. If nothing else, you have to go to try the Szechuan Wings.

19 Franklin Street
Stoneham, MA
Phone 781-850-3444

U-Me on Urbanspoon


El said...

Thanks for the review. Always looking for good pad thai.

Richard Auffrey said...

If you love pad thai, you should also try the Taste of Siam in Stoneham.

Anonymous said...

This is our "go to" restaurant when we want sushi and/or thai. We have NEVER been disappointed and have now begun to go once a week and have turned into regulars. We are always shocked that they don't have more business but attribute it to being off the beaten path in Stoneham. We have always had fresh tasty food and very friendly fast service. Never a disappointment and look forward to going there every time!! We love the staff and special maki rolls. The Thai food is amazing too. We've tried the pad c u and pad thai, both great!! Surprised that many people don't know how good this place is or that it's even there! Spread the word!