After reading That's Umami Talking by Michael Bauer, I decided to dig for more information on umami.
Despite becoming more mainstream in the western world only recently, umami was actually discovered in 1908 by Japanese scientist Professor Kikunae Ikeda. It is also called the fifth taste, the other four being sweet, salty, sour and bitter. On my search I found the Umami Information Center. It led me to Kyoto chef Yasuhiro Sasajima and his restaurant Il Ghiottone. The restaurant blends Italian ingredients and cooking techniques with traditional vegetarian shojin fare. Shojin was originally the food of choice for Buddhist monks. Have you been to Kyoto, Italy? tells you more about the Chef's fusion in progress.