You can’t talk about the food of Umami Ramen without talking about Lani Hedges. 

“Lani is the star of our kitchen,” wrote owner Peecoon Allen. “Making us laugh and dance (doing the Electric Slide) while cooking the broths and rolling egg rolls.” 

Lani and Peecoon have weathered the restaurant business together for almost a decade, from expanding into a bigger space to the pandemic. 

Lani brings Filipino flavors (and high standards) to the Asian mix at Umami Ramen. Owner Peecoon is from Thailand, and the food reflects Japanese, Korean, Thai and Filipino cooking traditions. 

Lani grew up in the Philippines, where the food is as fresh as whatever is at the market. Her family would go to the butcher or pick out fish swimming in water tanks. Umami Ramen might not have fish tanks, but the freshness is evident in the crisp snap of bean sprouts, the bundles of noodles laid out every day and the deep taste of the broths. 

As a cook, Lani doesn’t take any shortcuts. It can take hours to make curry sauce from scratch. But that way she can tell you every ingredient that goes into it, because she put it into there herself.  

She’s known around town for her pancit and adobo chicken, which make the rounds on Umami’s specials menu. Both are Filipino foods, influenced by the flavors of Spain and China. 

Adobo can be made at home, but people will ask her why they can’t capture the same taste of Umami Ramen’s adobo.  

“When I make the chicken, the adobo is only three ingredients: Soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce. Garlic. Onion. That's it. Very simple,” Lani says. 

It should be easy to copy. But even the kind of soy sauce the cook uses is important, Lani explained. Her adobo requires ingredients from the Philippines, since the soy sauce there is different from Chinese soy sauce. It’s fermented from coconuts or sugar cane. 

That’s how you know what you’re eating at Umami is authentic. 

Not to mention that last special ingredient: love. 

“Our food is from my heart,” Lani says. “You know what I mean? Passion and love to the food.”