Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CLOSED! japanese/sushi: i strongly recommend SUMI SUSHI

CLOSED! a/o 12/2014... new version reopened as IZUMI BY SUMI 3/2015

No. 17, Lane 248, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4
(02) 8771 – 9986

MOVED April 2014 to Ximending
No. 17, Lane 53, Hankou St. Sec 2
(02) 2361-5550

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: mostly Chinese

hours: 11:30AM- 2:30PM / 5:30PM - 9:30PM


Kid friendliness: sushi bar seating only, very tight space

Visit reviewed: 11/5/2010 & 11/9/2010

There's plenty of sushi bars in Taipei, but if you're looking for the kind of heaping rolls with drizzled in eel sauce or deep fried, then you have to look a little harder. I've had some miserable and some not so bad and some great, but none like my favorite roll place in LA that has so many crazy combos of huge rolls for great prices.

I first heard about Sumi Sushi when my friend M said her friend S said they had the best spider roll. The same week, another friend posted some drool worthy pictures on her Facebook and I couldn't wait to give it a try.

It's not too far from the also newly opened Macho Tacos and Toasteria on Lane 248, a little over two blocks away from ZhongXiao, and has a nice bright blue sign in English to spot.

Inside is quite tiny- just a sushi bar with about 14-16 seats, depending on how squished everyone needs to be. I had made a reservation for our group of 5 and after we were eating for about 20-30 minutes the rest of the counter was filled with a reservation of 8 people, so a few walk-in customers were turned away.

The English and Chinese menu offers a few appetizers and dons (rice bowls with sashimi or eel), as well as nigiri and sashimi, but we are here for the rolls! Sumi Sushi was opened by a Taiwanese couple who had moved back from Canada after living there for around 20 years and missed the rolls that they could find there. So it's great that I could order the rolls in English because I'm not sure if I could figure out all the rolls names in Chinese.

While there aren't many pictures of the rolls on the menu, you can check them out along the wall, though they are identified only by their Chinese name. This lead me to quiz the chef about a lot of the rolls (What is a Sumi roll? What is a Volcano roll? What is an Alaska roll?) to which he patiently and cheerfully answered.

You can also give him a budget and let him put together a menu for you, and let him know what you like and don't like. It's a good way to sample things, but if you know what you like and don't like, then you might be better off ordering ala carte.

Some of my favorite rolls at Sumi were the dragon roll (NT$200) which is a California roll topped with unagi,

the spider roll (NT$300) which features deep fried soft shell crab (I could probably devour a whole roll by myself),

and the dynamite roll which has tempura shrimp, avocado and cucumber (NT$130). Dynamite rolls that I'm used to come covered with special sauce and then are baked, but Sumi Sushi's version doesn't, so don't get confused there.

I was bummed that the spicy tuna roll (NT$160) was all spiciness and no sweetness. The best spicy tuna I've found in Taipei so far is either the rolls from A Plus or the appetizers at Dozo.

I know it won't matter to some, but I felt that the rolls that were bigger in size were a better value, since most of the rolls were along the same prices. So I wasn't crazy about the bite size Philadelphia(NT$180) featuring salmon and cream cheese, or scallop rolls (NT$200) either. I wanted more mega monster rolls, but instead many of the rolls were more dainty and not filling. I also wanted more eel sauce than the sushi came with, so next time I'll ask for more since the spicy sauces on the side didn't do it for me.

The appetizers are worth ordering if you want something other than rolls- the chicken chop (NT$100) had a simple, but nicely grilled flavor and texture.

And the grilled ika (NT$80), or squid, was fresh and chewy without being tough.

The miso soup(NT$20) and salad(NT$50) came at the end of the meal, and both were on the sweet side. The miso was so sweet that I couldn't finish it, but the dressing for the shredded cabbage echoed the miso, carrot and sesame dressing that I've had at Blue Marlin in LA.

Sumi Sushi should continue to have good word of mouth with its affordable prices and relaxed sushi bar setting. I was wavering between a 'recommend' and a 'strongly recommend' and decided to give them a 'strongly' since I've gotten sushi to-go on more than one occasion since my first visit a few months ago when I'm craving last minute rolls. Too bad they don't deliver- that would be awesome.

It's fascinating to me how various pockets of Taipei are becoming "restaurant rows" for international eateries- since every lane and alley is pretty much a restaurant row- but I'm talking about places like Lane 248 that has grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, sushi rolls and fish tacos in the same area, as well as Lane 280 off of Guangfu which has the new Italian restaurant Osteria by Angie, Ari Korean tofu (both of which reviews are coming!), the new branch of 15 Pizza and the new branch of Wendel's a block away. Any other "restaurant rows" that I should explore?


Catherine Shu said...

I've had my eye on Sumi Sushi and am so glad to hear you liked it! It's hard to find good American-style sushi in Taipei. A-Plus Sushi used to do a good job, but the last couple of times I went all of their rolls had the same imitation crab filling. Rainbow Roll in the Tienmu Sogo is good, but a bit far for a casual lunch. Dean and Deluca have an okay American-style sushi bar, but no avocado.
In terms of restaurant rows, there is one near Shida that has In to India and the original Evan's Burger, along with Tibetan food, a cute little cafe with Henry & Cary's chocolates, a waffle place, a burrito bar, a halal Indonesian restaurant... quality is up and down, though, because everything is priced for and targeted toward a student clientele.

Ginny said...

We checked this out tonight and...YUM! Especially if you are looking for "American" sushi. We were pleased with our rolls and the prices. We got there around 6 and by 6:30 it was packed. Glad to see it will probably stick around - we'll be back for sure. Thanks for the recommendation!

joanh said...

catherine_sr: thanks for commenting! it's definitely hard to find good american style sushi in Taipei! i haven't been back to A Plus in awhile, but i dug their spicy tuna. I havent' tried the Dean and Deluca sushi since I was very bummed all the deli stuff I liked disappeared. and yes! I know which alley you are talking about- it has the waffle place I posted about the closed down Taco Bar, right?

ginny: thanks for coming back and commenting!! it's always great to hear what people experience and think after visiting the restaurant a few days after i post a review. hehe! :) glad you enjoyed it

Unknown said...

What an awesome find! My gf and I stopped by and were surprised with the menu offering and especially the prices! I would say the only other place that I remember seeing this kind of variety for California style sushi is at A-Plus.

Thanks for the great find! One complaint is that they only have one sushi chef, which slows down the service. I thought they were a bit slow and we were the only ones there. I can't imagine what it would be like with high traffic.

- Richard

joanh3 said...

richard: thanks for commenting! i didn't find the pace bothersome when we were there, but i was chatting it up with friends. i have been doing the last few times to-go and calling ahead with my order.

Naomi said...

To me, Sumi Sushi jumps at least a star simply because Andy and Annie are so nice! Their son is a treat, too, so if you ever go and see a kid hanging around, say hi and ask for his recommendations. :)

knoregrets said...

This place was horrible, both in service and product. There are grotesque amounts of cream cheese in some of their rolls. The Dynamite was passable, but nothing special, as was the scallop roll. I'll admit that the Spider roll was quite good, with hefty portions of soft-shell crab. Service wise, they wouldn't even serve us. Our white friends on either side of my wife and I got their orders in a timely manner, but ours was served in clumps, we'd get one roll, then 3, then have to wait again for the 4th. Our friends were done eating (and received more rolls than we did) before we had our 4th roll served to us. They never even served us our grilled octopus, so we told them just to forget it and give us the check. Completely horrible. We will never come back here.

TpeGirl said...

Oh no, don't tell me this is one of those places that give foreigners amazing treatment and locals, or local looking people poor service. I don't want to add another restaurant to boycott!

kbm said...

hey, is this restaurant still open? I've been trying to call but no answer...

joanh said...

kbm: yes they are still open but closed on sundays... they are also moving to ximending in may 2014

knoregrets: sorry to hear.. sometimes it can be slow with only one sushi chef and rolls with fried items come out later..

tpegirl: i haven't felt that way otherwise i'd definitely complain too

Anonymous said...

We saw this place reviewed on Hungry Girl in Taipei and have been so excited for sushi like we get at home. We thought this long journey would end here. At first attempt, we ended up at the old address. It was difficult to figure out which of the locations was the "new" address. Then we had a friend who speaks Chinese call the restarant to get the correct location. After finally finding it, the website and Facebook say open until 10:00...unfortunately not for us. 8:56 on a Saturday we walked in and were told they were "all done". In a city where so many are reliant on cabs and trains to travel far distances this is not acceptable. Sorry, we'll just have to enjoy your competitors sushi.