Sumiya Going Downhill . . .
Responded to a post on Sumiya last Wednesday, and decided to give it another shot the same night, and ended up disappointed. Seems that food quality has gone downhill. With multiple visits, we almost tried everything on the menu, and came up with the following comments:
·Chicken skin: finally it’s available last time, but very disappointing. Like other places, the chicken skin was actually pan-fried. It didn’t taste as good as Lakuni or the deep fried version at Saizo. The chicken skin was tasteless, and it had a weird taste like rubber band.
·Beef tongue: texture was good, but it was grilled on one side only. That makes it very strange, as one side was nicely grilled, but other side was not.
·Chicken wings: always very good, we had 3 orders. The skin was very crispy, yet the meat was soft and juicy, perfectly accomplished.
·Chicken gizzards: wasn’t dry and salty enough. Personally I have a mild taste, yet I had to add more salt on mine.
·Chicken liver: was made just right, but still expect a little drier outside.
·Sausage: good, must eat right away to enjoy the crispiness of the skin.
·Pork belly: similar to beef tongue, was grilled on only one side, not as good.
·Quail egg: made with fresh quail eggs, very good. The yolk was soft and fluffy.
·Duck: not very tasteful even prepared with tare (Japanese sauce).
·Eringi mushroom: the mushroom absorbs the charcoal aroma that makes it tastes very strange.
·Shitake mushroom: this one goes well with the charcoal aroma. Bonito flakes were added on top to enhance flavor.
·Chicken hearts: we once tried it, but it wasn’t very fresh (a little stale taste). The quality varies from time to time.
·Chicken meatballs: always my favorite, the onion brings up the sweetness, very good.
·Chicken thigh with green onion: so-so.
·Eggplant: prepared the same as shitake mushrooms, with bonito flakes on top.
·Unagi liver: don’t think it was prepared in-house. Can get the same thing elsewhere.
In conclusion, food quality has dropped tremendously, we were very disappointed. We were the first crowd to visit when it first opened, and we were very satisfied, yet it cannot maintain such consistency. The 20% off coupon offer at Bay Spo may draw some new customers, yet I doubt if I will return shortly.
Hmmm, I was just there yesterday and I think the quality has actually improved over time.
What time did you go? I noticed that the food gets better as it gets later - maybe the charcoal gets hotter or something.
Sounds like you don't really like the Japanese style grills, since many of the places in Japan also grill one side more than the other. That way, the juices remain without them all dripping to the bottom. Maybe earlier in the evening, the grill may not be hot enough to pull it off or something.
FYI, the chicken skin is also grilled. If you sit at the shorter counter, you can see them grilling it.
The Mi (chicken thighs) get better and better. It's got a nice charcoal-grilled coating while being very moist in the inside.
The Tsukune has gobou (burdock) in it, which lends it a nice toasty, nutty sweetness. This is the one I keep going back for, since it's much better than any other tsukune in the Bay Area, including what I can make at home.
I noticed that they cut down on the salt quite a bit now. It wasn't shockingly salty like I felt before. But then again, maybe it was because I was drinking sake last night. Same with the sauce - not as salty as before.
I like the sansho powder that they have (or you can ask for) on my salt yakitori. The spicy scent of the sansho is the perfect precursor to the flavors of the chicken.
I think it's still good, if not better, so maybe you just caught them too early in the evening...?
You are not the first to suggest going to Sumiya at as it gets later. I arrived at the restaurant at 7:30pm, normal and usual dinnertime, and if I must arrive later than that, I’d rather pass.
The Japanese style grills for one side grilling is not my favourite. Good point for preventing the meat from over-drying, but not too damp in this case. Likewise, this method will lead to charcoal fuming on one side of the meat only.
The sansho powder helps a bit.
Assuming the restaurant opens at 5pm, two and a half hour should have made the charcoal hot enough.
I went to sumiya last night too for the first time, and quite enjoyed almost everything we tried. I particularly loved their tsukune. Only Negima (chicken thighs and green onions, ordered one with salt, the other with tare) were dry. Personally, I did not think the food was under-salted. I totally forgot about the BaySpo 20% discount. I will definitely return to Sumiya again (maybe some time next week since the coupon I have expires next week).