Restaurants serving “Americanized” sushi are relatively rare in Taiwan. Sumi Sushi, which opened seven months ago, fills the gap with a casual atmosphere and reasonable prices for diners craving sushi made with ingredients like cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado.
The restaurant, in Taipei’s East District (東區), is run by a Taiwanese couple who once lived in Vancouver, where they owned a similar restaurant. The tiny space consists of just a sushi bar and a handful of seats, so reservations are recommended if you plan to arrive during peak dining hours on Friday or Saturday.
The difference between the sushi served in many US and Canadian restaurants and Sumi’s versions are smaller sizes and a lighter touch with condiments like mayonnaise or hot sauce. The rolls are artfully made with a careful balance of fresh ingredients and the portions will leave you satisfied, not stuffed.
Sumi’s spicy tuna roll (NT$160) is a bit different from the usual version. Instead of being chopped up and mixed with mayonnaise and chili sauce, the restaurant wraps up slices of the tuna with sushi rice, sprinkles it with homemade chili sauce and covers it in mounds of crispy green onion slices. I missed the indulgence of the mayo, but Sumi’s version is piquant without being overwhelmingly so. The roll is served with a bit of extra hot sauce for dipping if you want a nostril-clearing level of piquancy. Sumi’s tasty spicy scallop roll is made in a similar fashion, but sprinkled with a little tobiko (flying fish roe) instead of the green onions.
The classic California roll (NT$120) is made with imitation crab, cucumber and avocado. The combination of ingredients is balanced well and no flavor or texture, even the sweet imitation crab, overwhelmed the others. When topped with various slices of sashimi, the California roll becomes the rainbow roll (NT$250). I preferred both to the Alaska roll (NT$180), which is made with slices of fluffy tamagoyaki (a sweet omelet), imitation crab, cucumber and smoked salmon. It wasn’t bad, but had less flavor than the California or avocado rolls and it was hard to appreciate the smoked salmon through the tamagoyaki.
Address: 17, Ln 248, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路四段248巷17號)
Telephone: (02) 8771–9986?Open: Monday to Fridays 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 9:30pm, Saturdays 12pm to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 9:30pm, closed Sundays
Average meal: NT$350?Details: Chinese and English menu, credit cards not accepted
On our server’s recommendation, we ordered a spider roll (NT$300). The deep-fried soft shell crab had a light, crunchy coating of batter and wasn’t greasy. It was complemented with an ample portion of avocado, a few thin slices of cucumber that set off the richness of the other ingredients and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and kabayaki sauce (a slightly sweet condiment made with soy sauce). The spider roll comes with only five pieces, but they are large and two have big, meaty crab claws sticking out of them.
Cream cheese lovers will like the Philadelphia roll (NT$180), which is made with plenty of the main ingredient rolled up with cucumber and topped with smoked salmon slices that are lushly flavored without being too salty. If I had to choose one cream cheese roll, however, I would go with the deep fry roll (NT$200), which also features boneless slices of tender fried eel and cucumber. Even if you aren’t usually a fan of eel, the yummy combination of flavors is worth a try.
Sumi Sushi also serves classic maki and nigiri rolls and has a small selection of sake and imported beer. Weekday lunch specials range from NT$150 to NT$200.