i don't like japanese food, so we eat japanese food only once a year - on mr. khairul's birthday! coz he's the unagi-and-prawn-tempura-nut between us. hihi.
this time, after much googling and asking around, we settled on 'sumo sushi & bento' japanese restaurant in media city, dubai to have a birthday dinner.
the place was hard to find, lemme tell you that. mr. khairul actually had to call the restaurant to ask for directions.
media city dubai ni besar jugak ye. we were supposed to look for the 'sun' building, find a narrow lane that leads to a parking lot, where 'building 10' was. there were 2-3 makan places on the ground floor of the building but it was unusually dark that we would've thought they're having an earth hour session or electricity-saving campaign!
there was a pizza place, a small conveniece store, a mid-east restaurant and at a dark corner, we finally spotted 'sumo' restaurant. there were candles set on the tables outside - but instead of evoking a romantic candle-light dining scene, it looked rather like sumo lost its electricity and made up for it with what little candles they have left!
gelap gile! bukan gelap romantic ni!
there wasn't even a huge lighted blue-white SUMO signage upfront - the only way we knew it was the right place was a small signage on its front door. the place looked so simple, so tersorok and definitely 'off the beaten path'!
because eating outside might impare our sights rather than provide a romantic experience, we opted eating inside.
upon entering we were greeted with friendly smiles and a counter where fresh salmon and what looked like a giant octopus were on display. there were also a couple of japanese-looking chefs (japanese 'looking' pasal actually semuanya filipinos! hihi) slicing and dicing behind the counter, and another fixing a tepanyaki meal on a flat grill.
before we even took our seats, i realized that you don't come to 'sumo' restaurant to bask in a japanese ambiance. look at the picture above! it could be any restaurant - with its very minimal wall decor, boring dark brown leather seats and wooden flooring.
boring, yes - but wait - overall it offered a comfortable setting for us with little kiddos. the seats are big and comfy, ample space to 'park' a stroller and the spacing between tables provided the privacy we'd like.
oh, and to top the non-japanese ambiance - the background music was an arabic song! lawak betul when we first noticed. hey, i know we're in the negara padang pasir but a japanese song wouldn't hurt to create a feel! hihi.
ok now, what about the food, then?
it's called 'sumo sushi & bento' restaurant. naturally that's what it has in its menu. unlike the wall decor, its menu has all the typical japanese cuisine - tempura, teppanyaki, sashimi, teriyaki and miso soup. salmon, eel and such.
most are served as bento - a japanese style lunch-boxes. it's like a complete meal - rice, meat, vegetable and soup.
i applaud the menu for including very beautiful pictures of its meals! hopefully it matches the actual taste!
mr. khairul the eel-lover ordered 'caterpillar' - a small plate of freshwater 'unagi' with avocado. and for his main meal, the highly recommended 'tempura bento' comprised of shrimp and vegetable tempura and teriyaki chicken served with white rice.
everything looked fresh and appetizing!
i don't eat salmon, sushi and definitely not eel! so i scanned the menu quickly for any chicken meal and found 'chicken katsu bento' - sliced breaded chicken served on top of japanese rice with beans and carrots. it came together with sumo's special katsu sauce.
the chicken hot and very crispy, the vegetable fresh but the 'special' katsu sauce tasted just like bbq sauce which i don't really like.
looking at our meals, one thing is certain even before we put a bite in our mouth - the portion is huge! with the price of the bento, and this portion - it's worth every dirham spent!
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we also ordered miso soup for khaleef as he's a soupy-freak. and he just shared huge spoonfuls of rice and slices of breaded chicken with me.
oh, speaking of soup, that's one disappointment i'd like to add - the bento did not come with a complimentary miso soup like some other japanese restaurants we've been to. it's like when we eat nasi ayam la kan? sup tu mesti la sekali kan?
so we had to order two extra bowls of miso soup for the birthday boy and his son.
how bout his other son? safe and tucked away in la-la land...
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ok, really now - how was the food?
seriously, it's all good except for the rice! the rice was slightly hard, when we expect japanese steamed rice to be on the sticky side. however, the miso soup and sauces improved the texture and by the second suap, we didn't even bother with the rice because the other stuff was so yummy.
the rice wasn't that bad, it's just that it would've been perfect if it was soft and sticky like it should.
mr. khairul loved his dish - the eel fresh, the teriyaki chicken juicy and well-marinated while the shrimp tempura crispy and delicious. and he also 'choked' on the very-stinging wasabi, which, according to him means the wasabi was super-fresh. he said he had eaten in some japanese restaurants where the wasabi didn't even give the spicy taste that it's supposed to.
* wasabi is a leafy plant with thick green roots (like cabbages and horseradish), finely grated and turned into a green-colored paste. it's a kind off 'japanese mustard' which is spicy and has a very strong taste. eaten with sushi and sashimi, it's usually mixed with soy sauce as a dip.
i enjoyed my order as well - the breaded chicken well-fried, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! a dip of my breaded chicken into mr. khairul's teriyaki sauce - perfection!
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overall, i'd say it's really worth the price. cheaper than most, especially being so near our place (because if you want cheap japanese food you can get many from areas like deira and bur dubai which is like 40-45 minutes away) with good food and fast, friendly service.
'sumo' is the place to go if you want affordable good japanese food but don't mind not having the japanese ambiance and feel. well, kitorang tak kisah. the most important thing is the food is good, and the place is clean.
visit its official website for menu, delivery contacts and other information!