Umami Cafe | a New Cafe in the Dimond District

I had the pleasure of meeting @hannahvanwagner who I’ve been following for some time on Instagram.

We met for the first time at @UmamiOakland (no association with Umami* Burger) in the Dimond District and chatted for a good 30 minutes before we even thought about food or coffee. (That doesn’t happen often!). I knew what she looked like but she had no idea what I looked like. I thought about sending her a photo of myself or a video but I thought I might look different IRL. So, I kept my identity a mystery until I walked across the threshold to a smiling Hannah sitting at the light grey granite table waiting for me (I’m always late…sorry). We embraced each other like longtime friends and immediately sat down to talk.

We talked about meeting other Instagrammers/influencers, our passion for food, our struggles because of our love for food (packed on a few lbs), our blogs that we haven’t launched yet (But will both launch together Easter weekend!) and why I’ve been keeping my identity a secret. See, it’s because I work for the NSA. I’m kidding. ? I have my reasons which I will address in a future blog.


We spent 5 minutes ordering pretty food and drinks. Usually, I don’t take that long to order food at the counter but there was no one behind us.  In between trying to figure out what to order I even had a chance to practice the little Korean (Hangul) I learned when I lived abroad. (I’m not Korean but might be Korean culturally).


The questions I like to ask when going to a new place are “How long have you been open?” “What are your top 3 dishes?” and most importantly “What looks the prettiest?”


I told the owner Simon (Sang Lee) not to say The Veggie Bowl because I’m not a fan of veggies, and guess what? He said “Veggie Bowl.” I went with the Power Bowl instead and he added kimchi to give it color. I also got the Golden Latte which has turmeric in it. Most people aren’t fans of turmeric but I personally like it and love seeing it in drink form. Hannah ordered the avo toast (with instructions to put the Sauerkraut on the side), a poached egg and a miso latte. Yes, miso latte. It was a little odd but didn’t taste bad. Next time I need to try the Broffee (Beef Bone Broth). Oh, I also got my first Third Culture mochi muffin — believe the hype. I hate matcha in food but it was good and I love the texture. Most importantly, it was very pretty which was the only reason I chose it over Churro flavor. (Happy 1 Year Third Culture Bakery!)


After we got our food, Hannah and I spent about 30 minutes taking photos of our food before we sat down to eat. No one in the cafe seemed to care which was good.  Simon came over while we were taking photos of our food and gave us a Sauerkraut shot for our photo.  It was pretty indeed and tasty if you like salty.  After we stuffed ourselves, Simon came over again but this time he brought dessert.  That was so very kind of him and totally reminds me of living in Korea (complimentary is called “service” in Korea).

Shooting food with someone that does it for a living made doing it very comfortable. I remember when I was shooting food in 2006 — I’d click my camera several times without looking at it and hoped that I’d get one good photo.  I had a lot of fun meeting Hannah and shooting and I’m excited to do more of it.


Thank you, Hannah (and every open-minded brave soul) for taking a risk and reaching out and meeting me without knowing what I look like and not even knowing if I was a boy or girl!


Hannah says a lot of my followers are missing out since I’m keeping my identity private. So, I might make a reveal when my site launches or a little after my site launches. Keep an eye out for my IG story or look for it here.


Have you ever met anyone from Instagram? What have your experience/s been like?



 *Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/), or savory taste, is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It has been described as savory, and characteristic of broths and cooked meats.-Wikipedia





Cafe Umami
2224 MacArthur & Fruitvale
?Oakland, CA
5 months old

Tip: Park behind the old Citi Bank or near CVS. .P.S Thank you, Simon, for being so patient with us 🙂 and the complimentary dessert.

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