Despite having walked past the restaurant in Bugis many times over the past three years, there was never a chance or occasion to visit Sumire Yakitori House. The restaurant, with its izakaya-like environment, is one of those places where diners can get good value and indulge in a little beer or sake to wind down the day. My recent visit left me deeply taken with the selection of Yakitori delights, the range of modern-inspired sushi rolls and the restaurant’s signature homemade tofu cheese pudding. While the restaurant does have a few new dishes on the menu, their standouts are still the ones they do best – the yakitori.
Sumire is no stranger to the yakitori business. Its first outlet opened in Tokyo back in June 2009, and after 7 years, the brand has expanded to over 60 outlets throughout Japan. Although yakitori may not have taken off in Singapore, it does have its followers. With an appeal of tender, savoury meats that are grilled to perfection, there is something comforting of enjoying meats off a skewer. Yakitori also differs from restaurant to restaurant. From the top notch gourmet experiences where produce and even the choice of charcoal is key, to the good ol’ Izakaya where having yakitori is simply part of the entire drinking culture, what defines a good yakitori really varies. My most memorable Yakitori experiences was when I visited both Bird Land (at Ginza) and Isehiro (at the Hotel New Otani). It was truly a remarkable adventure witnessing the chef prepare each skewer right before your eyes, before setting each stick in a setting of licking flames and smoke infusion.
While Sumire Yakitori House is not necessarily a Michelin-starred gourmet Yakitori house, from the few skewers that I’ve tried, it does come close in re-creating a Tokyo-esque Yakitori experience (minus the indoor smoking that usually happens in an izakaya).
I found the first skewer of Hinatoro ($4.90++) pretty impressive. Made from the uncommon chicken shoulder, the Hinataro is juicy and carried a tinge of sweet, nutty flavour accentuated with a sprinkling of salt.
The Foie Gras Kushi ($6.90++) was also a very good choice to indulge in. A very, very nice buttery piece of goose liver is grilled and gently seasoned with the house’s special spices. Its meaty intensity and bite make it quite different from the traditional pan-seared. Worth the calories!
What was a little bit more unique, and different, was the Chipi Bacon ($5.90++). Pieces of Japanese Green Pepper & Cheese comes wrapped with wonderfully fatty, salty and smoky bacon. Be extra cautious when enjoying this upon serve. You wouldn’t want to scald your tongue with bubbling cheese.
Aburi Salmon Mentai Mayo Roll
For staples, and something worth sharing, do order the Aburi Salmon Mentai Mayo Roll ($8.90++/4 pcs; $16.80++/8 pcs) or the Nixon Roll ($4.80++/4pcs;$22.80++/8pcs). While not traditionally Japanese, these are sushi that carried a range of savoury, sweet and buttery flavours all within. Admittedly, however, the portions can be a touch pricey.
New on the menu is the Daisen Tori Nabe ($29.80++). With chicken and the collagen stock specially imported from Japan, the flavours of the hotpot broth are pristine and rich. The hotpot comes with an assortment of ingredients such as chicken meat, minced chicken balls (oishii), prawn, fried tofu, enoki mushrooms, okra, zucchini and fungus. What I found a little awkward was the use of zucchini, which proved to be a touch bitter when cooked in the broth.
Still, a highlight for me after any Japanese Nabe is the addition of rice and egg to create a simple, yet delicious porridge. When the broth is well steeped in flavour, you can just imagine how punchy the leftovers are. All you need is a touch of seasoning for a little more zest if so required.
Another new dish is the Tokusei Yakitori Tamago Toji ($21.80++). Served and to be enjoyed hot, this hotplate of grilled chicken meat, grilled chicken meatballs and mixed mushrooms is prepared in a savoury sweet dashi. What’s unique is the egg that is served separately, allowing diners to prepare the egg to their preferred “doneness”.
The meal also comes with an egg tempura served atop the rice bowl. Needless to say, cut it open to allow the yolk to flow all over the rice. A tip, however, is that don’t let the broth boil for too long – you’ll create a savoury gravy that almost borders a level of salinity unappreciated.
End off the entire meal with the restaurant’s signature Homemade Tofu Cheese Pudding ($3.80++). A first for me, it was a remarkable experience digging through the crisp and firm tofu-cheese custard. Go for the original variant for that natural, sweet sourness. The yuzu lends citrus overtones while the mixed nuts simply smothers the tofu into something else altogether.
In all, Sumire Yakitori House does an impressive job in whipping out dishes that seem to cater for a wide palate. While any purist would bemoan the yakitori house doing much more than yakitori, there are some dishes on the menu which the restaurant does decently well and with deserved mentions for seconds. Still, for my next visit, it will be a trip for more yakitori and of course that fabulous homemade tofu cheese pudding. Original, of course.
Thank you Sumire Yakitori House for the invitation.
|Sumire Yakitori House|
|80 Middle Road #01-88|
Reservations: 6338 9963
PH, Sun – Thus 11.30am to 10.30pm
Eve of PH, Fri – Sat 11.30am to 11.30pm