Sumi Tei Yakiniku
reviewed by : Melissa Richter
22 April 2017
Opened in November 2014, Sumi Tei is an unassuming traditional yakiniku restaurant located at J Avenue in Thonglor. They are popular for their in-table BBQ grill, and the quality of their Wagyu A5 beef imported directly from Japan is what they are renowned for. They offer high-end quality ingredients, most of which are imported directly from “the land of the rising sun” so guests get an authentic Japanese BBQ experience. In addition to the imported beef, they also have local beef, pork, chicken, fresh seafood, fresh veggies, soups and noodles and hand selected specialty items of the highest quality. The interior is low key and understated, with minimalist design elements expressed in light wood and black leather seating. The two level restaurant differentiates itself by making each of the table’s semi-private with large wooden divider walls separating them, and they boast 3 additional formal private dining rooms tailor-made for groups or business dinners.
The standard of both the service and the quality of ingredients is higher than your average all you can eat BBQ grill or suki shop that proliferates the city, and guests are encouraged to create their own selection of meats and vegetables to grill table-side and customize the meal based on their individual desires. They have several pre-determined sets to choose from, and a combination of a la carte and small sets for sharing is often the optimal choice. The word “Sumi-Tei” once translated to English is “charcoal” and the Kuroge beef imported from Kagoshima prefecture in Japan is the most highly coveted option on the menu. We started off with the Royal Tokusen Karubi set which is Japanese grade A5 wagyu beef. This melt in your mouth beef is the highest grade wagyu available and this highly prized Sankaku Bara cut which is limited to only six servings being sold each day at the restaurant due to its popularity. This meat is highly marbled, thick cut and mild in both texture and taste. It is best served when lightly chargrilled so that the fat begins to break down and the beef melts in your mouth. Due to its limited availability, it is recommended that you call ahead to pre-order when you make your reservation as this dish is not to be missed. The beef is also complemented by some tasty side dishes of pickled vegetables and white rice to counterbalance the rich and fatty meat. A refreshingly ice cold Asahi or Suntory beer is well-suited for washing it all down. Next we dove into the Imperial Set, which allows you to try several different cuts of Japanese grade A5 beef at the same time and appreciate the subtle differences in texture and flavor. The set includes Tokusen Karubi cut from the side, Tokusen Sirloin, Tokusen Rib Rosu, and Tokusen Bara which comes from the belly. This is the signature dish of the restaurant and is sure to leave you satisfied as you compare and contrast the succulent beef. The bara and the rib cuts are best when cooked a bit longer so that the meat browns and the fats caramelize, while the sirloin is perfect when served slightly rare. Another beef centric dish that you must try is their Imperial Suki set, which is a new addition to the menu. This set is aptly named “imperial” because the beef served is the same grade and quality as traditionally given to the emperor in the Imperial palace in Japan. Just like the Royal Tokusen Karubi set, it is limited to only six servings being sold each day, so it pays to call ahead to ensure it will be available on the day you want to visit. This suki set features Tokusen Sirloin and a luxuriously rich semi-sweet beef broth that the delicate vegetables and beef are cooked in. A heavy clay pot is placed directly on the charcoal grill in the table and is meticulously tended to as it reaches an aromatic rolling boil. A sensual raw egg yolk is presented table-side and used to dip the cooked meat and vegetables in to add another sensual textural element of flavor to the dish.
Sumi Tei is an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates the beauty of grilled beef at the highest level in a casual and laid back environment. They prove that you can have a high quality dining experience in a minimalist atmosphere that never forgets to keeps the focus on the food.