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Friday, September 27, 2013

Food Tasting at Sumire Yakitori House @ Bugis Junction, Singapore

In the quest of searching for authentic kushiyaki, a Japanese classic inclusive of bite-sized delicacies skewered and grilled, I am deeply honoured to be invited to a private food tasting session at Sumire Yakitori House. With 15 outlets in Japan itself, Singapore was chosen to become the first venture outside the country, as it was seen as a growing hub for food (among other things). Their initial concept - a yakitori bar, was originally targeted at men, who enjoyed their wide range of beer and sake while having yakitori. However, the President of Sumire - Mr. Yuzawa Tadanori, thought that good food is best shared. Since then, the bar concept is molded into a restaurant, catering for people from all walks of life.

Their first local outlet is seemingly difficult to find, girlfriend and yours truly had to pace the mall and search the directory whilst trying to locate the restaurant for the first time. Well, it wasn't that difficult to navigate around after knowing it is nestled at the edge of Bugis Junction, just across Bugis+. Upon arriving (anonymously), we were greeted loudly by the chefs and service staff with smiles hanging on everyone's faces, and it was noted that greetings would be given whenever customers enter, leave or when food is being served. On a side note, these people are probably the happiest service staff I have ever came across. Another plus point is awarded to the open kitchen concept where trained professionals prepare your grills, and cosy interiors, which exudes a typical Japanese restaurant "feel" and even evokes a sense of nostalgia, if you have been to Japan.

Sumire Yakitori House is one of the growing numbers where iPad menus are utilised, besides the use of traditional paper menu, providing great convenience to both the technologically-savvy and tech-illiterate. Being on our virgin trip to the restaurant, one of the friendly staff kindly assisted us with the menu and introduced us some of their signature dishes. According to prior research and recommendations, Bakudan Korokke (S$6.90) is one of the most recommended dishes. Also known as the "bomb", the homemade potato croquette leaks out a stream of velvety smooth yolk from its crispy exterior of potato and breadcrumbs when opened up (which was similar to molten chocolate cake or custard bun). Being texture and flavour-rich, this dish is indeed a gastronomical explosion.

While waiting for the next serving to arrive, which took less than 5 minutes on a weekday night, we munched on some cabbage, served with Shio-Dare sauce (salt dressing) and sesame seeds to aid in digestion. Highly known for it's rich and natural vitamins, cabbage has excellent age-defying and beautifying properties among other benefits. At Sumire, the first bowl of cabbage is complementary, while subsequent servings are priced at S$1.90 each.

Potato salad (S$3.90) is a recommended appetiser to prepare your palate for what is to come. The clever texture-full combination of assorted vegetables mixed with mashed potato will make you drooling for seconds. I had a hard guess on the shredded decorations around the salad, which I thought was beancurd skin. Mr Shin, the humble managing director of Sumire, kindly enlightened me that it was actually fried wanton skin. I actually felt stupid for a moment.

Their signature yakitori is an obvious choice to order off the menu. At Sumire, most skewers are either grilled with Shio (salt) or Tare (teriyaki sauce), serving the best of both worlds. We had the highly recommended Negima (S$2.90) - tender and succulent chicken meat skewered in-between leeks, Nankotsu (S$3.90) - chicken soft bone (also known as cartilage) and meat which proved to be a tad dry and tasteless to my disappointment, Cheese Tsukune (S$4.90) - a great combination of minced chicken infused with teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise and cheese. Interestingly, their tsukune comes in "men" and "female" sizes, the former comes in bigger sizes, whereas the latter presents a smaller bite for the demure.

A short interview with Ms Felicia, the HR manager of Sumire, reviewed that they have incoming plans to gradually introduce the variety of yakitori. Diners, like myself, can look forward to grilled seafood and beef skewers in time to come.

Tamago Mentai Cheese (S$7.90) makes to girlfriend's favourite list, and the answer is obvious - soft, runny mentai cheese encased within the classic Japanese omelette, makes for a perfect starter.

Mentai Cream Udon (S$8.90) is a huge recommendation by myself. This big bowl consists of chewy udon, thinly sliced cucumbers, seaweed and mentai, in a creamy base. As with all the creamy pastas, less is more, making sharing a wise choice. For desserts, try out their signature Sumire Ice Cream (S$3.90) - vanilla ice cream drizzled with black sugar and dusted with soya bean powder. The picture will say the rest.

In a nutshell, there was no doubt that Sumire makes quality and authentic Japanese food affordable. Derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the world "smile", Sumire Yakitori House hopes to promote that "smile is priceless" and that their restaurants, which encompasses both food and services would bring smiles to everyone's faces. And you know what? They did it.

Sumire Yakitori House

Tel: 6338 9963

Opening Hours
Sunday to Thursday & PH: 11.30am to 10.30pm
Friday, Saturday & eve of PH: 11.30am to 11.30pm
#01- 88/89
80 Middle Road
Bugis Junction