A new Japanese restaurant has opened in the city centre. Colin Drury visited...
Michael Lee is a secretive sort of fellow.
The man behind Sheffield’s newest Japanese restaurant - a glam Tokyo eatery near the train station - says he’s run restaurants for 20 years but declines to tell us what. He’s just moved to South Yorkshire (from Manchester) but would rather not say where. And when we ask how he came to open in this old Suffolk Road warehouse, he assures it’s a long story - and one he’d rather not share.
So, what do we know about Sumo San?
It launched 10 weeks ago with no press or publicity. It opens 12-12, six days a week. It specialises in sushi and teppanyaki. And, oh yes, it’s fabulous.
The grilled sea bass, served with asparagus and spring onions in a lemon sauce, might just be the most sensational things you ever taste in Sheffield. We’ll come back to that hyperbole.
For now, it’s safe to say Sumo San isn’t in the most auspicious location. Five minutes from the station it may be but that’s five minutes heading out of town, and in an unspectacular building besides. It’s back wall is attached to The Leadmill, which has meant serious soundproofing has been installed.
But whatever it’s location, once inside, you’re transported to downtown Tokyo. Neon lighting, eastern pop music (perhaps a touch too loud - or is that my age?) and Oriental decor are more Sapporo than Steel City. On the night we go in it’s busy with both western and eastern customers. One group sit round the teppan grill where superstar chef Alberto Giron entertains, throwing rice from dish to dish, creating patterns from frying eggs and igniting flames that flare to the ceiling. A seat there has to be specially booked ahead.
Tonight, though, we’re starting on the sushi. These bite-sized chunks of raw fish - served with rice or seaweed - cost no more than three or four quid, and they’re lovely.
The scallop and the seared black pepper tuna nigiri are sea-plucked fresh while the soft shell crab temaki -served in a wrap of seaweed - revels in its salty bite. An additional skewer of (cooked) beef in teriyaki sauce is sticky and melty - like a carnivore’s lolly.
But it’s the teppan fusion - a main meal served with miso soup, salad and rice - which really impresses.
The sea bass is as white and soft as bed sheets but rather more flavoursome, sharp but subtle, hinting at gourmet but demanding you dive in. The fillet steak comes covered in ginger teriyaki sauce - think glazed soy flavours - and is done well, although perhaps a touch too sweet and smothery.
There are only four desserts. We share green tea ice cream which is so deliciously cutting, it half feels like it’s cleaning your teeth.
Conclusion? Michael may be secretive but when it comes to Sumo San, he has plenty to shout about.
* £56.10 with wine.
Venue: Sumo San.
Address: 16 Suffolk Road, Sheffield, S2 4AG.
Contact: 0114 275 1118.