A new Japanese restaurant Sumiya, which literally translates to charcoal (sumi) house (ya), has emerged at the roof top of Orchard Central. Tastefully embellished with zinc walls and copper crockeries on communal wooden dining tables, Sumiya closely resembles small street bars and restaurants found in narrow back roads of Yokocho, Japan during the Showa era. We were warmly invited to taste their grand menu developed by its Japanese master chef, featuring a wide variety of high-quality charcoal-grilled fish, meats, vegetables and tapas.
Our first impression of Sumiya was already hard to beat as jovial staffs donned in traditional happi coats and masks greeted us when we walked in. They had constant smiles on their faces that injected liveliness into an otherwise casual atmosphere.
We started off with something light, Potato Salad with Mentai Mayonnaise ($4) and Sweet Pumpkin Salad ($5) which was strong tasting, refreshing and truly sweet. Then a staff offered us to try the Mashio Edamame ($6/grab), or Japanese green soybeans, which portion we get to determine by a grab with one hand. Just when one of us was about to make a grab, a man toting what seemed like a percussion instrument started drumming away, drawing attention from the other diners to us. It created quite a hype that managed to keep us all anticipating for more excitement throughout our meal.
Moving on, we had the Sashimi ($8.80 each), mostly imported from Hokkaido, Japan. We watched as an in-house chef sliced the fresh salmon and hamachi into large chunks, before carefully displaying them on a metal serving plate. We also had the Tempura Prawn Roll Sushi (7.80) which sat perfectly on our palate, delivering a mouthful of textures that was relishable.
If you prefer to have your starters warm and not chilled or raw, try their selection of deep-fried and steamed items. We had a go at the thick-cut French Fries with Truffle Oil ($6) and Deep-fried Squid with Chili Sauce ($6). Both dishes were nice, crisp and bursting with moist and flavours.
Sumiya is highly specialised in charcoal grill. They have quite a selection of ready-to-eat skewers that are meat-based and veggie-based. We tried the Beef with Salt ($4) which was thinly sliced, so tender, fragrant and tasty, and served with leek. For the slightly more health conscious, try the Bacon-wrapped Eringi Mushroom ($5) which blended two very different flavours and textures so well together.
But don’t miss the fun of lightly grilling your own skewers with Do-It-Yourself Table Sumiyaki. We had the mixed dried seasoned seafood, grilled conger eel, soft smoked squid, dried baby squid and semi-dried hage fish to grill over the mini barbeque pit. The result was fragrant, toasty, crisp seafood which emits the natural taste from the sea. Pair all of these with a mug of ice cold Asahi or stiff sake and you are definitely good to go.
With such authenticity present in the taste of their food, and rich culture reflected in the restaurant’s design, it is easy to find yourself immersed into olden-day Japan when dining at Sumiya. However, don’t be alarmed if you spot a peculiar looking cotton candy machine in the restaurant. Although it might look a little misplaced, the drumming you will get when you try your hands on at the machine will automatically snap you back into the mood of olden-day Japan. Apparently, drumming is their way of bringing happiness to their customers, so gather your best pals for a session at Sumiya and soak in the izayaki style cuisine.
Sumiya Charcoal Grill and Izakaya Restaurant
#12-02 Orchard Central
181 Orchard Rd
Tel: 6509 9618
Operating Hours: Lunch 12pm – 3pm,
Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm,