Sumo Sushi, Albuquerque

Sumo Sushi
800 3rd Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

A few months ago I gave a very disparaging review to Amerasia, Sumo Sushi’s sister restaurant which serves good, authentic Dim Sum as much as Taco Bell serves good, authentic Mexican food (though even that is generous to Amerasia). However, I had a pleasant experience in 2012 next door at Sumo Sushi and decided to go their yesterday when my fridge was absolutely bare and I was too tired to buy groceries and cook.

After parking in their gravel parking lot, I entered the restaurant and was promptly seated after a family of three. After a few minutes of serving the family ahead of me, my server gave me a glass of ice water and asked if I was ready to order. I asked for her recommendations on the Donburi and udon bowls, but she said “they’re different” and refused to give a recommendation because she “didn’t want me to complain later.” I was a little surprised at such a defensive response, but nonetheless I decided to go order salmon nigiri, inari (sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu), and Oyakodon (bowl of rice with simmered eggs, chicken, and vegetables).

Sumo Sushi 1

A bowl of complimentary miso soup and it was fairly generic, though nice given the brisk night. Then the nigiri and inari came. I was a little puzzled at only getting two inari pieces as I generally am used to three, but the inari was good if a little understuffed with rice. The salmon nigiri was decent with big pieces of salmon, albeit it wasn’t quite melt in your mouth good. The rice was a little dry and small, but all in all not bad. It could have used some freshly grated wasabi, but in general it’s rare to get fresh wasabi at any sushi restaurant that’s not high end and in a super big coastal city (and even then, you’ll likely get generic wasabi paste a lot anyway).

Sumo Sushi 2

The Oyakodon came last and was definitely redemption for the night. The broth mixed elegantly with the rice, with a slightly subtle but very clean and fresh flavor. It complimented the eggs, chicken, onion, and bell pepper slices as well. While clay pot rices of Chinese cuisine and bibimbap of Korean cuisine are divine in their own right, the Oyakodon here definitely reminded me why I liked donburi best among small mixed rice bowls in East Asian cuisine.

Once I was done, the second server refilled my water glass and cleared my table. Finally the bill was presented to me as the final seconds of the Duke-Syracuse NCAA men’s basketball were being played. It came to about $20, not including tip. While the service wasn’t great, the Oyakodon and the pleasant atmosphere more than made up for it. I’ll definitely be back again, but definitely not for the Dim Sum and hopefully with a different server.

As a side note, if you want to listen to an excellent NPR program episode on Japanese food, I recommend listening to this January episode of Good Food with Evan Kleiman.

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