Open in Los Altos since 2008, Sumika Grill was one of the original yakitori places in the South Bay Area. In 2010, the same team opened the wildly popular Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara; but Sumika Grill still holds its own requiring reservations on most days in order to guarantee a seat at this tiny restaurant that offers grilled and small izakaya plates.
We were seated at the counter where we got to watch all of the skewers grilled to order over the binchōtan charcoal:
They offer bottle service so we ordered some Soju to drink with this meal (and also the next meal when we return). We usually prefer the rice- or barley-based Soju over the potato varieties since it has a cleaner flavor similar to Vodka at half the proof level. We simply drink the distilled spirit over ice, and the server was very good about keeping our bucket filled:
We started with the mushroom tempura special from the board. The tempura only needed to be dipped into a little bit of salt for flavor:
Sumika was one of the earliest Japanese restaurants featuring organic Petaluma chicken on their menu. One of the best ways to have their chicken is fried karaage style:
One of the most original salads that they have had on the menu since they opened is the Nest salad that almost looks like a UFO:
Break into the inverted fried tortilla shell to reveal the romaine lettuce, mushrooms and soft-boiled egg inside. Since the dressing is drizzled on the shell, the best way to eat this is to continue cracking the shell into smaller pieces and mixing all of the ingredients together:
We ordered the cod roe grilled over the binchōtan charcoal:
We have eaten at a lot of Japanese restaurants and have consumed many different sea urchin dishes, but the version here is a completely unique experience. The Uni and Onsen Tamago Jelly featured plenty of urchin lobes in a cold uni-flavored jelly bath. Piercing the soft-poached egg created a yolk-based sauce for the dish:
The Unagi (eel) and Shitake Mushroom Bacon Wrap came as a very flavorful Japanese terrine. It was a great contrast of sweetness from the unagi sauce with the saltiness of the bacon. Layered with mushrooms, this was an interesting study of umami flavors:
Lastly, we tried a the Scallop Kushiaki and a grilled rice onigiri to end our excellent meal:
Unfortunately, they were out of their Black Sesame Panna Cotta that evening. We were too full for desserts anyway but would have made room for that if they had it. We already made plans to return soon — at the very least to finish the other half of the Soju.