Not fancy. Good vibes. This is how head chef and owner of Ume Japanese Kerby Craig describes the restaurant’s transformation from a fine diner into a Japanese-inspired bar.
Since making the decision to bring his burgers to Ume Barangaroo, Craig worried about how to divide his time between there and the restaurant.
“I looked at getting a partner in, but no one wants to invest in a restaurant – there’s no money in that. I decided to put the restaurant on the market, but in the end, no one wanted to buy it. Then I realised how sentimental this place is for me, and that I didn’t want to get rid of it at all,” says Craig.
After months of wrestling with different ideas and concepts, he decided to transform the Surry Hills Ume into something less demanding. “I realised how great this space would be as a bar,” he says.
Craig plans to close Ume on July 18, 2016 to begin the restaurant’s overhaul.
“When I was coming up with the concept I asked myself, ‘Where do I like to drink?’ I love to drink in small dive bars in Japan – nothing fancy at all, with day-off vibes”.
The drinks list will include a number of Japanese wines by the bottle and glass. The drinks list will include a number of Japanese wines by the bottle and glass. The existing list of craft beers, sakés and whiskies will be expanded, but there won’t be any fancy cocktails on the menu. Craig finds them too fussy and time-consuming, and instead wants to serve basics with a Japanese touch.
The food will be similar to what is served at Ume Barangaroo, but with more focus on creativity and seasonal produce. Expect soups, rice dishes, hot dogs, pickles, omelettes and burgers. It’s essentially bite-sized izakaya snack food designed to go with drinking. The dessert menu will feature hojicha, a roasted green-tea cake and a matcha-flavoured purin – Japanese crème caramel.
The Surry Hills location is perfect for a bar like this. The boxed-in restaurant already lends itself to a hole-in-the-wall experience, and Craig has plans to make it “even more dank”.
Ume will hold one last, celebratory burger pop-up on June 5 at the original restaurant from 11am–3pm.
Bar Ume is slated to open August 5, 2016.