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Umami is the name for the taste sensation produced by some proteins, such as monosodium glutamate. This is one of the five basic tastes. It was discovered in 1907 by Kikunae Ikeda.

This flavor is considered basic in Japanese and Chinese cooking (the word umami is Japanese), but not discussed as much in Western cuisine, where it is sometimes referred to as "savoury" or "more-ish". It is believed that "umami" taste buds respond specifically to glutamate in the same way that "sweet" ones respond to sugar.

The name comes from umami (旨味 or うまみ), the Japanese name for the taste sensation. The characters literally mean "delicious flavour".

In English, the name of the taste is sometimes spelled umame, but umami (which conforms to the romanization standards of Japanese) is much more common, as, for example, in the title of the "Society for Research on Umami Taste" at http://www.srut.org/index_e.html .

The same taste is referred to as Xian Wei (鮮味) in Chinese cooking.

Basic tastes
Bitter - Salty - Sour - Sweet - Umami