Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar & Grill- Edmonton, AB



Sumo Sumo is one of the newest sushi restaurants that recently opened in Edmonton. When they first opened, they had an amazing Groupon deal which offered $40 worth of sushi for $20. They are located out in Sherwood Park, almost half an hour from where I live, so I didn’t think I would need to buy a Groupon at the time. When Urbanspoonist started rating the restaurant, however, I definitely regretted my decision to forgo the Groupon. It was over a year after Sumo Sumo opened that I had the chance to try Sumo Sumo out for myself.

My companion organized a special, semi-surprise birthday for me at Sumo Sumo since I had wanted to go to Sumo Sumo for over a year (and have been bugging him about it for over a year). We drove up with our good friends on a warm (at least by Edmonton standards) Sunday afternoon for their all-you-can-eat special. Sumo Sumo offers a weekly all-you-can-eat special on Sunday and statutory holidays from 10:30-3:30 for $35. Now, $35 per person for a meal is expensive by anyone’s standards, but considering I’m used to AYCE sushi prices of $12-$14, I was a little taken aback by the price tag.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Seaweed Salad, Mussels,
Spicy Tofu, Cabbage Spring Rolls, Cooked Oysters in
Ponzu Sauce, and Teriyaki Chicken Skewer
We started off the meal with the self-serve buffet, which was actually a lot more impressive than I thought it would be. For self-serve buffets, especially at Asian restaurants, I am generally used to subpar overcooked, under-heated piles of food lined in a some sort of haphazard manner; Sumo Sumo really puts up a beautiful display of Japanese-fusion food including: cooked oyster in ponzu sauce, spicy fried, tofu, seaweed salad, teriyaki chicken skewers, cabbage spring rolls, specialty rolls, and more! The cooked oyster in ponzu, seaweed salad, and cabbage spring rolls were my favourite of the display. The teriyaki chicken skewers were quite good as well, though I have never been a fan of chicken skewers. The spicy fried tofu, which I was particularly interested in trying was a little on the bland side and had too much of the thick, sticky sweet sauce for my liking.

Sashimi Platter: Salmon, Red Tuna, Toro, Scallop, Octopus
The next order of business was the sashimi. Between the seven eight of us, we ordered over 60 pieces of sashimi. At most AYCE restaurants I’ve been to before, they generally bring out the sashimi in 10-15-piece (max!) servings at a time. Sumo Sumo, on the other hand, brought out a giant dish of all of our sashimi. It was an amazing, but slightly daunting sight to see our entire sashimi order brought out in one dish. With little hesitance, we all dove in family-style to the sashimi platter and were all delighted at the quality of the sashimi. The salmon sashimi was especially notable – it was cut into large, generous slices and had an excellent amount of creamy, fat in each slice. Definitely a quality slice of the fish! The red tuna, toro, and scallop sashimi were also of excellent quality. I am not a fan of octopus sashimi, but those in the group who were did not have any complaints. If had to make the drive out to Sumo Sumo, it would be worth it just for the sashimi alone!

Left to Right: Chop Chop Sushi and Salmon Sushi
There was a rather long wait between our sashimi order and our sushi order and we had ample time to make multiple trips between the self-serve buffet. On our first go, to our disappointment, the buffet was out of the specialty rolls. However, after we all satisfied our sashimi craving, we dashed back to the buffet in order to have a taste of Sumo Sumo’s specialty rolls. There was an assortment of specialty rolls – unlabeled unfortunately – laid out buffet-style. Sumo Sumo’s specialty rolls were large (at least 2-3 bites per piece for me to finish) which featured generous portions of fish/avocado/eel to rice ratio drenched with an equally generous serving of fusion sauces. I had no idea what I was eating most of the time, but those rolls were absolutely delicious. From the a-la-carte menu, we decided to order the Rainbow roll, Mexican roll, Paradise roll, Mango roll,  Spicy Salmon roll, Crunchy roll and Chop Chop sushi. The Chop Chop sushi and Rainbow roll was probably my favourite from the a-la-carte menu; both featured a generous helping of fish/scallop and great flavours. Overall, however, I was fairly disappointed with their a-la-carte menu. The Paradise roll, Mango roll, and Crunch roll were rather bland and were almost undistinguishable from one another. The Mexican roll, usually one of my favourite rolls at other sushi restaurants, was probably the strangest roll I had ever tasted at a sushi restaurant. The Mexican roll featured an inside out salmon roll with sprinkles of red chilli powder/flakes, served on bed of nacho chips and salsa (real, mild chunky salsa!). Although innovative, the Mexican roll was just plain bad. The red chili powder/flakes was chalky at best and did not provide any sort of spicy-flavour. The chips and salsa wer an awkward addition that neither enhanced the flavour of the dish or could be eaten with the roll. In fact, the salsa coating on the Mexican roll made it impossible to eat the roll with soy sauce at all (without a minor gag that is). If you wanted to simulate the Mexican roll at home, just imagine mixing rice, salsa, and some stale nacho chips in a spoon – pretty gross, right? The Spicy Salmon roll was prepared very similar to the Mexican roll, minus the awkward addition of the chips and salsa, which only made it slightly better than the Mexican roll. In the end, however, the Spicy Salmon roll was just a bland salmon roll with chalky red chilli powder.

Left to Right: Mexican Roll, Rainbow Roll, Paradise Roll
Overall, my experience of Sumo Sumo was a mixed one and perhaps the Sunday afternoon buffet was not Sumo Sumo’s moment to shine. The self-serve buffet and sashimi were exceedingly impressive and the sashimi was definitely one of the freshest and tastiest I have ever had anywhere in Canada (I have yet to try sashimi in Vancouver, so don’t hold me to my word)! However, the a-la-carte menu was utterly disappointing and had some of the worst sushi I have ever tasted in my life (i.e. the Mexican roll). I would probably give Sumo Sumo another chance later in the future, perhaps if I happened to be in Sherwood park. However, the drive alone, not to mention the hefty $35 price tag, combined with my experience with Sumo Sumo definitely will make me think twice about nagging my companion about Sumo Sumo again.

Top Pick: salmon/toro sashimi and self-serve buffet sushi



Rating: 3.5/5 Erics'

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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