SUMO JAPANESE RESTAURANT
ADDRESS: 1730 S. Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003
It was the end of the work week, and I had one free day to spend in the area before hopping on a plane the following morning to head back out to the east coast. After checking out of my hotel in Palmdale, I decided to take the drive down to Oxnard to visit my brother Kevin for the day.
We met up briefly at his apartment to catch up and then headed north a little bit on the 101 to Ventura to hit up a sushi spot called Sumo Japanese Restaurant that he normally frequents with his girlfriend. My brother would send me pictures of the sushi pretty often; I’d always comment how good that stuff looked and gave him a hard time about the fact that he never took me there when I visited. This time around, the opportunity arose and we didn’t waste it.
For a Saturday lunch service, the restaurant was relatively quiet (also possibly due to the fact that it was Labor Day holiday weekend). We were seated promptly by the hostess before our waitress stopped by to pick up our drink orders. Glancing over the sushi menu, I noticed there were certainly a wide selection of sushi rolls to choose from, spanning across three pages.
With my brother being the seasoned diner at this place, I deferred to his opinion about which rolls we should pick out to order. He recommended three of them: the Ultimate Salmon, the Alaskan, and the Crouching Tiger & Hidden Dragon. For our fourth roll, he turned it over back to me to make the final decision. The menu helped make the choice partly easier because each sushi roll had a picture above the name. The Vegas Roll had caught my eye when scanning the menu, so I decided that was the one to round out our 4-roll order.
I have to say that I was a little conflicted by the decorations of the dining room. On one hand, the sushi bar had a zig-zag seating arrangement at the back of the restaurant that naturally drew your eyes when you looked around the area. Booths lined the walls and tables made up the rest of the seating options in the floor space. But then you had a piece of contemporary artwork in one corner near the front of the restaurant, two flat-screen TVs that seemed a little out of place, and soft jazz music playing on the speakers. If you were to ask me if there was a theme to the décor of the restaurant, I’d be hard pressed to give you a definitive answer.
Our gyoza appetizer arrived first, six pieces fried golden brown and filled with pork. They certainly had a nice crunch to them and were a good way to start things off. Right on the heels of the appetizer was our first sushi roll, the Alaskan. With baked salmon on the outside, krab stick and avocado on the inside, and garnished with some tobiko and scallions, the Alaskan Roll was packed with plenty of savory flavor. The avocado gave each piece a smooth texture and the eel sauce the roll was plated with provided some slight tanginess.
After we finished off the Alaskan Roll, quite a bit of time passed before we received the remaining rolls we ordered. It struck me as a little odd, since I had expected all the sushi rolls arrive together, like I was observing over at other tables. My brother ended up having to ask our waitress if the rest of the sushi rolls were on the way, checking if the order was even placed. Only after that did the remaining three rolls make their way over from the sushi bar.
Visually, all three sushi rolls definitely made a statement. With a varying contrast of colors that jumped off the white rectangular dishes they were plated on, the sushi rolls really made you just want to dive right in. I started off sampling a piece of the Ultimate Salmon Roll, with krab stick, asparagus, and avocado on the inside topped with salmon and garnished with scallions and a ponzu sauce. I liked how the ponzu sauce gave that blend of tangy and acidic flavors to the roll, working very well with the cooked salmon. The crunch from the asparagus was also a nice textural contrast to each bite as well.
Then we have the remaining two rolls: the Vegas Roll and the Crouching Tiger & Hidden Dragon Roll. I guess that my brother had never ordered the two together before, because he commented how similar they looked on the plate. The only visual difference at a glance was that one was topped with salmon (Crouching Tiger & Hidden Dragon) and the other was topped with eel (Vegas).
The one thing that struck me about both rolls when trying them was the heavy hand on the spicy mayo and eel sauce. Unfortunately, I felt like both of the sauces overpowered the flavors of the rolls and didn’t give an opportunity for the main ingredients to shine through. The rolls tasted good, but I think that for my own preference, I’d rather have the sauces plated and the entire roll would rest on top of them. That way, you could control how much sauce you wanted to dip each piece into.
With the visual element certainly there for the sushi rolls, Sumo seems to also provide a nice variety of rolls to choose from on their menu (especially when you have three pages to choose from). My brother has eaten at the restaurant quite a few times previously and did mention that the rocky service that we experienced would show up from time to time. All things considered, I think that the restaurant is good, but didn’t do enough to elevate it into the “excellent” range.
Let’s now take a look at the Sumo Japanese Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Sumo Japanese Restaurant:
Food: 4 / 5
The sushi rolls had good flavors and the presentation was nice, but for two of the rolls we got, the heavy use of sauces was too much to overlook.
Atmosphere: 3.75 / 5
The overall ambiance in the dining area just struck me as a little odd, with contrasting decorative elements present in the space.
Service: 3 / 5
Our finished dishes lingered on the table until they needed to clear room for the remaining three sushi rolls arriving. That, combined with needing to ask about when the rest of our food would be arriving, provided a lackluster service experience.
Price: 4.5 / 5
I thought the pricing of the special rolls was very balanced to the ingredients that each roll contained. It was also very comparable to other sushi restaurants that I have been to as well.