Yume (it means "dream" in Japanese) opened near the western end of the Triangle's main street in July. Owned by Chun Hong Pai, Yume features a unique blending of cuisines: a fusion of Latino-Caribbean and Japanese. Not surprising since Executive Chef Frankie Hernandez did time in the trenches at Uchi and hails originally from Puerto Rico, while sous chef Aaron Stebbins is a recent transplant from a resort in the Dominican Republic; both are Cordon Bleu alumni. The sushi chef is "Isaac," his professional name, while Joel Gonzalez heads up the pastry side of the menu.
The space is casual and unpretentious, with subdued lighting and relaxed music: Latin jazz, smooth reggae, etc. Sushi, featuring freshly flown-in seafood, anchors the menu, while bento boxes, containing both hot dishes and sushi, are the mainstay of the lunch menu. At night, the Island Fusion menu shines as the focus of the kitchen's creativity.
We've made several forays to Yume, one for bento boxes to go. Containers organize the components perfectly for transport. We had the Shrimp Salmorejo ($10.95), featuring sweet shrimp in a spicy tomato-based sauce with capers and olives, accompanied by mofongo (a delectable globe of plantain mashed with garlic and chicharrónes) and a nice plump California roll. Panko-crusted snapper ($11.95) came with a crisp Asian-flavored slaw and a California roll. Both boxes contained a rich miso soup, a salad of baby greens with tart-fruity vinaigrette, and dessert – a wealth of flavors.
Every dinner should begin with a large bowl of the Prince Edward mussels ($12): sweet bivalves swimming in an aromatic broth of coconut milk, lemongrass, chile, and basil (make sure to get extra bread or rice to soak up every drop). A tempura of Japanese kabocha squash ($4) was perfect: thin, crisp coating with a golden, sweet interior. An incredible unctuous chocolate-coffee rectangle of pork belly ($14) melts in the mouth; think more of a Mexican mole than mocha.
Yume should be considered a destination for desserts, as well. There are five selections daily, in the $7 to $8 range. Picture peaches-and-cream-filled brioche in tarragon custard, with cherry "caviar" and peach compote, or five-spice beignets with apples in port reduction, Ibarra chocolate, and orange-blossom foam.
Be sure to take advantage of the daily happy hour, from 5 to 7pm, with a selection of sushi rolls for $3 to $4, $2 beer and $4 wine, tempura, and those incredible mussels for $7 – a perfect way to let traffic (and yourself) relax.
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