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Le Sommelier



Bistro Sommelier

The Sixth Element

Words by Julie Ralph

Umami is the fifth flavor found in Japanese food, along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It also refers to an extra mmmm factor meaning delicious taste. But there’s a sixth element at this Japanese restaurant with a French accent. Atmosphere.

From the exterior, you can’t help but notice the sculptural curtain with color-changing lighting, which also appears in the interior. A mood-generating concept which matched the vision of owner Jesper Boelskifte, who wanted to woo guests into a relaxed state of tranquility. Developed by Umami’s interior designers from Orbit Design Studio of London (who boast other clients like Louis Vuitton), the transparent curtain makes smooth transitions to another color every 25 minutes. A discrete but deliberate move to alter the ambience throughout the evening. The effect? A subtle entertainment for the eyes that soothes the soul.

Adding to the special effects of lighting is the Asian aesthetic throughout the décor. Floating stone walls, ebony tables, Japanese silk panels and rice paper lamps in contrast to warm walnut floors and the über clean aspect of sushi. There’s also a quirky architectural perk. The previous tenant was a bank, the remnants of which remain in the iconic metal door to a vault downstairs.

“There has to be a special x factor that you talk about to others.”

Overseeing the concept implementation is co-owner Peter Trauboth. Incredibly slim and fit for a guy who works in the culinary world, after studying food technology and molecular gastronomy in Australia, he came back to Denmark and became the youngest to pass the sommelier examination at age 19. After several stints as a waiter at some of most talked about venues in town, it became clear that upscale restaurants are arguably empty without some extra allure. “We have to offer more than food,” says Peter. “An x factor that you talk about to others. Customers stay longer because the atmosphere here is an escape from their everyday lives.”

An haute approach to hybrid cuisine

Head Chef Christian Paradisi hails from Switzerland, where chefs have been in his family for generations. After working at the Savoy in London and at five-star hotel Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Christian embraced the opportunity to add Japanese
to his culinary CV. He is extremely passionate about exploring elegant and aromatic ingredients like yuzo, mirin, saki and soya which bring magic to his menus. “Other classical restaurants are so restrictive. Here we invent new combinations and challenge culinary conventions.”

Downstairs is the cocktail bar lounge offering exotic concoctions such as citrus infused saki, lychee liqueur and one of the largest saki selections in the world. Upstairs is a separate sushi bar where three Japanese chefs prepare a fresh an array of favorites. Followed by the main kitchen offering a mélange of French classics, such as foie gras along with Japanese ingredients like veal tenderloin with wasabi truffle sauce. Christian orchestrates each menu so the flavors and textures work together in the right sequence, building up to the next course. Interspersed with the wine specially chosen for each.

An intriguing intermingling of tastes and textures

Echoing the Japanese approach to making food a visual work of art in itself, each meal is elegantly displayed on the dish. “When I write the menus I am already thinking about how it will look on the plate,” smiles Christian, eager to surprise customers with a new mmmm. What’s the wow factor for their next endeavor? “We’re in the midst of a secret project,” says Peter. “Another food type which doesn’t exist in Denmark. It has something to do with ambience but not lighting. Something for all the senses.” Tantalize your taste buds at