Sumiya @ Suntec City: 'Irori Genshiyaki' - unveiling the secrets of Japanese grilling

Walking into this place, the first thing that grabs your attention is the circular Enomatic sake dispenser, apparently, the only one in Singapore too. Basically, a wine enomatic system employed to perform sake duties, the elephant in the room, administers a total of 16 types of sake stored in temperature-controlled environment for diners to enjoy their choice of beverage in complements to their meal.

Since, I confess to not being much of a lover of sake, I took a sip of my 
half glass (60ml) Morboroshino Tak Daiginjo Blend Taplows ($14) and left it in the corner of neglect for the rest of the evening. That's not to say the rest of your sake connoisseurs out there won't appreciate the finer selections of sake procured by the restaurant and backed by a certified sake sommelier on site who would not hesitate to answer any of your queries should you not understand the tasting notes labelled on the sake dispenser. With these, indicating the aroma, taste identification, acidity, texture and origin; picking out a alcoholic beverage should be easy as pie.

The Sumiya at Suntec differs drastically from their flagship outlet at Orchard Central, sans the industrial metal sheeting and large communal spaces. Dining here is a little more intimate, a little more closeted off from the rest of the diners; a slight mysterious and fashionable setting, furnishing dressed in dark hues of grey and wood, preparing the guests for a feasts of gustatory pleasures.

First things first, service staff are courteous and the entire dining experience kept laid back yet professional, all thanks to their knowledgeable stuff and their nifty ninja-like tableware shifting skills. And just to get this out of the way, prices here tend towards the higher side, this justified by the fine produce used. The Fresh Bluefin Tuna Steak Sashimi ($68), for instance, arrives as a singular cut of the titular fish showcasing three premium parts all at once - akami, chutoro and otoro. This, was education served up on a platter, highlighting the disparity of fat levels in a tuna despite its near proximity. Served with ponzo, spicy sauce and truffle paste, each recommended to be eaten separately with the various cuts; my advice would be to stick with plain shoyu and wasabi to optimise the sweet nature of the freshly imported tuna. Pardon me, as truffle paste leaves me highstrung,

Another choice pick of mine would be the Isoyaki-style Fresh Hotate (Scallop) ($11.80 each), the beast, dealt with such tender loving care that it shows even in the placid sipping of the broth gathered at the skirts of the scallop. Doused in house made soys sauce-dashi broth and grilled in their shells over charcoal, the result is a sweet parcel of juices, its membranous frills imbued with a slight smoky haze that amplifies its sweetness. I reckon the Oyster Isoyaki ($4.80) and Fresh Abalone Isoyaki ($15.80) would yield the same results.

Sumiya Suntec City stands out with their unique Irori Genshiyaki methodology, evident from an enormous charcoal pit in clear view as you trod into the restaurant, whole fish on skewers stuck vertically around -slow grilling in motion. This transparent technique yielding fish that is more evenly cooked, its more well-rounded exposure to the source of heat, prolonging cooking time and yet ensuring that the subject retains a moist tender flesh.

A special fish-drying machine is first employed to replicate the effects of sun-drying, hence intensifying the natural flavors of the fish just before they hit the irori genshiyaki.

Just in case you're a bit hazed and confused from the entirety of the menu, here's my shot of advice, DO NOT leave without trying their Grilled Yellowtail Collar with Salt ($20.80).  The oily fish done justice with a humble sprinkle of salt, a dash of lemon and radish on the side. The same can be said about the Grilled Renkodai (a type of sea bream) ($28.80); I'm usually adverse to fish with tiny bones, but I find myself painstakingly sifting through its flesh in search of sweet requiem. 

At Sumiya, a special aluminium tin filled with broth and various types of seafood catches my eye. Choose between soup bases - original clear broth, tom yum soup and Soya sauce & Miso-base Soup with garlic and chilli then proceed to pimp your box with as much seafood as one hearts' desires. We indulged in Today's Chef Ryoshi Mushi(open price) which leaves it entirely to the kitchen to showcase their spectacular listing of  freshest seafood, which so happened to be Kodai Fish (sea bream), Hiroshima Oysters, Prawns and Scallops that very day.

The scallops as usual were beautifully cleaned and cooked, the umami flavor of the broth enhancing the mollusks. Lifes' simple pleasures tucked away in bowls of broth, just waiting to unravel its mysterious in between ginger sips.

Round off the night with a short and simple list of frisky desserts. The Pumpkin-filled Karinto Manju ($8.80) winning this round, hands down. Served with matcha ice cream above a bed of adzuki red bean, dive into this piping hot, with no regrets whatsoever, mainly because there's no time for that with all the jealous hyena fixated stares translated across the table. For something a little more exotic, lay your hands on the Sumiya Tropical Dessert ($18.80), available in limited portions of 18 servings per day. Composed of a beautifully hand-carved ice bowl reminiscent of an 'Under-the-Sea' experience, a pool of coconut milk sauce with a galore of glamorous inhabitants including mango, watermelon, tender rock melon, sago, green tea ice cream and sweetened red bean paste attempts to tantalise your taste buds. Providing a refreshing sweet treat that doesn't weigh too heavily on the conscience.

Sumiya Seafood Grill Sake (Suntec City)
3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City North Wing Tower 2
t: 6235 1816

Operating Hours:
Daily: 11 30am - 3pm; 5 30pm - 10pm

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