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Sumo: THE FAR EAST
By A. Kaze. 17.09.2008
The taste of Japan, whether you prefer a traditional approach or a contemporary variation, is on the menu at Sumo.
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Located in a quiet corner of the Old Town, Sumo has been a favorite for eight years now. Kimono clad waitresses and minimalist Japanese style décor add to the oriental atmosphere, along with a hot, damp o-shibori (white towel) before your meal.
We met with the experienced head chef Andrejs Gaigals, who regularly consults Japanese chef Akihiko Kawagoe to keep up with the latest trends in preparing dishes from the land of the rising sun - a land surrounded by water which of course means fish. Deliveries from abroad arrive two or three times a week because Baltic salmon, for example, is too pale for sushi.
Experiments in finding a balance between Japanese flavors and what a local finds more palatable are in a specials menu which changes every six months or so. The most popular of these make it to the regular menu, with seafood dishes like Yakimaguro – grilled tuna steak with yoghurt and wasabi sauce (€22). Andrejs tries to emphasize seafood in his menu as this is the essence of Japanese food. His background in European cuisine allows him to find interesting fusions. The tantalizing aroma of the Nin Niku Ebi (€21) reached the table before us; a dish in the form of three sumo-sized king prawns. With shells left on to retain the juices, the prawns were sliced open like a book and grilled in a subtle, piquant lemon-garlic sauce. The piping hot flesh was indeed succulent, and the spices left a pleasant zing on the tongue.
Those looking for a more traditional Japanese seafood experience will find plenty of sashimi, nigiri, tataki and maki sushi to keep them satisfied, prepared by a pair of sushi masters with ten years of experience between them. Different types of seafood in these span from octopus to eel, crab to flying-fish roe, although apparently the locals like to stick to the tuna and salmon. We tried some large roses of thinly sliced calamari and salmon sashimi which were tender, fresh and beautifully presented. Prices for these can reach sumo proportions, but the quality is very high. However, those on a tighter budget can take a set like the Edo-Sushi with eight slices of avocado maki and six nigiri for €13.50. Naturally, you can take all this in with some traditional saki or plum wine, but Sumo stocks a medium range of wines from the grape too.
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