Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya (Singapore)

Main dining room (left), yokocho (right)
While Japanese food aficionados are still mourning the demise of the upscale Kuriya Penthouse, another F&B concept – also by RE&S Enterprises – has come into being on its former perch stacked atop Orchard Central.
Named Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya (“Sumiya”),  the glass-wrapped beauty has undergone a facelift to unveil a new persona – one that eschews minimalist elegance to take on old school flourishes that hark back to the 1950s-80s era in Japan.
The transformed space boasts 3 distinct dining quarters: a 46-seat glass-wrapped main dining hall with communal tables against tall wooden bar stools sited next to an open concept kitchen where chefs smoke the food on a 3 meter-long charcoal grill; the 36-seat Orchard yokocho (meaning alley in Japanese) featuring low-slung wooden tables and stools framed by plastic drapes; and a 24-seat alfresco terrace.
What to expect
In a marked departure from Kuriya Penthouse’ ultra upscale concept, Sumiya reaches out to the mass market with fun and affordable izakaya-style small plates.
The menu – labeled the Grand Menu – is extensive and proffers everything from formulaic sushi rolls (S$7.80) and sashimi (S$8.80) to salads (S$4 to S$8.80), appetizers (S$4), deep-fried and steamed items (S$6 to S$8.80), light noodles (S$7) to signatures like the DIY sumiyaki (S$4 to S$8) and various chef’s char-grilled items (S$4 to S$19), vegetables (S$4 to S$5) and skewers (S$4 to S$23). There is also a limited menu of DIY BBQ menu (S$6 to S$20) for those seated at the outdoor garden.
Grab and pick your own edamame
There’s no better way to start than to chase down a mug of chilled Asahi beer (S$4.90 a mug) with some edamame. Sumiya ups the fun quotient by letting diners ‘grab and pick’ edamame from a gigantic bowl for S$6 a grab.
Grill your own dry seasoned seafood at the table
The DIY table sumiyaki is also good to go with beer. Pick the mixed platter of dry seasoned seafood (S$8) for a selection of 4 umami-rich varieties from the menu, which may include soft smoked squid, dried baby squid, dried shishamo and/or semi-dried hage fish.
Salmon sashimi (left), sweet pumpkin salad (right)
Whilst waiting for the chargrilled dishes to arrive, the wallet-friendly sashimi (try the salmon, S$8) is worth a go, as are the salads like the mashed Japanese pumpkin salad with teriyaki sauce (S$5) – but truth be told that these are nothing ground breaking.
Assorted skewers

Grilled skewered vegetables

The char-grill menu has options aplenty ranging from beef (S$4), pork belly (S$4), cod fish (S$6) to beef-wrapped foie gras (S$9) and the works. We suggest the assorted skewers (S$23) for the daily-changing array of char-grilled items (including 2 vegetables) from the menu – think a mixed plate of prawn, spicy beef tendons, pork belly, bacon-wrapped eringi mushrooms, sweet potato and sweet corn, all of which pass muster. Augment these with an order of grilled skewered vegetables (off menu item, price not available) basted with chicken oil and a secret chicken stock. The mélange of shishito peppers, shitake mushroom, sweet corn, sweet potato and onions is an agreeable medley.
Skewered wagyu (left), stone pot ramen (right)
One of the weak links at dinner is the skewered wagyu beef (S$10) – a miniscule portion that arrives a tad dry. The other let down is the sliver of tough-as leather sliced pork that crowns the bowl of stone pot ramen (S$7) with perfectly springy noodles, although for that price we should not complain.
Kuzu mochi
Trust the desserts to come to the rescue: DIY sweet cotton candy (S$5) or, better still, a plate of kuzu mochi (S$5) crowned with peanut powder that will not look out of place as a concluding course in a kaiseki dinner.
Budget about S$50 per head (excluding beverages) for dinner.
Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya | #12-02, 181 Orchard Roas | 65-6509 9618 |
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© Evelyn Chen 2013

Please note that the reviews published in this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.

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