‘The last time I had sushi, it walked off my plate.’ We were nearing Sumo and a friend of mine was recounting the story of a sushi lobster he’d ordered in Singapore that had not been properly pinned down. It made me recall the last sushi I’d eaten. I’d gone to an all you can eat sushi joint in Bangkok, one renowned for being cheap and cheerful, and for serving fish so old it’s practically pickled by the time it lands on your plate. A bad nigiri had put me off for life, I’d thought, but here I was being persuaded to get back into the water.
Sushi, more than any other cuisine, is about product over presentation. If you have good fish, you can have good sushi. Scrimp on the basics and the whole show is doomed. Sumo has a good reputation among the residents of Juffair, and was packed when my friend and I entered, which made me feel much better. For some reason, I have always felt you should never eat raw fish on your own. What, for instance, might happen should anything go wrong?.
Sumo is cramped: there are four tables upstairs, two outside and a bar for people dining solo. But I have never been to a good Japanese restaurant that wasn’t cramped. In Japan, there is a rule of thumb that if you can use your elbows then the restaurant has no atmosphere, and unless someone’s slurping green tea in your ear and nearly stabbing your eye out with a chopstick, don’t order.
I wanted to ease myself in and ordered a bowl of edamame (soya beans) to start. I have to confess, I prefer them chilled, but warm they still help to fashion an appetite for raw fish. We also ordered a shitake mushroom soup over the usual miso, which went down like liquid caramel.
My friend insisted on some shrimp gyoza, though for me Chinese dumplings never sit happily with the rest of Japanese cuisine. I ordered an avocado maguro salad, which is one of my favourite dishes in the world, and was done well. I’m a huge fan of spices, and the sauce could have had more of a kick, but the tuna was beautifully fresh and the avocado perfectly ripe.
As a main we decided to share the Chef’s special tray which came in a kitsch miniature boat laden with sushi and sashimi. The waiter informed us the hammour was over, which was a shame as white fish sashimi tends to rule the roost. Instead we had a double helping of salmon. Raw salmon meat, unlike tuna, loses its form when it’s past it, and you can end up with a mouthful of what feels like abalone if you’re not careful. The Sumo salmon, at least on this occasion, was well above par.
We didn’t need dessert after the ship full of fish, but they had red bean ice cream and I couldn’t resist introducing my friend to one of the oddest and yet nicest ice creams known to man. Red bean is really Chinese (green tea ice cream is the Japanese equivalent), but a scoop was enough to clear the palate, which was then finished off with a pot of green tea. Sumo Sushi and Bento is a great place for both a feast and a snack, and for the price is a bargain.
The bill (for two) Edamame BD2.100 2 Shitake mushroom soup BD2.200 Shrip gyoza BD2.200 Avocado maguro BD2.400 Chef’s special tray BD16.700 2 red bean ice cream BD2.000 Green tea BD0.800 Water BD1.000 Total (incl tax/service) BD32.340
Sumo Sushi & Bento
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com