Experience char-grill at retro-hip Sumiya

Retro-hip sumiya japanese cuisine food dining DIY Charcoal grill skewers Sumiya charcoal grill Izakaya restaurant

The DIY Charcoal Grill is one of the highlights, and has little smoke

Chill out and savour quality Japanese food at this trendy, retro-hip Japanese izakaya and charcoal grill restaurant

By Lester J Wan

Tucked in a peaceful alcove in the heart of town, Sumiya, meaning “charcoal house”, is a fresh concept and a delight.


As you enter, you are greeted by drumbeats and enthusiastic waitresses dressed in traditional work clothing known as samue (similar to the yukata). The restaurant has a homely, relaxed feel with individual and communal wooden dining tables, Japanese drums and other traditional decorations.

No expense has been spared to create a sentimental and authentic setting for dinners, with handpicked vintage pieces such as classic enamel signs, copper crockery, glassware, and other classic souvenirs. There are about 50 of these items from yesteryear, worth about $20,000 in all.

In fact, each section of Sumiya has its own unique character. One section is even designed to look like the old Japanese eateries below metro rail tracks in the 1960s. This setting certainly evokes nostalgia.


There is also an al fresco terrace especially for a do-it-yourself (DIY) garden barbecue experience, with a menu especially for that.

Experience Char-Grill at retro-hip sumiya smoking Skewers DIY Charcoal

The best of Sumiya is in the Chef’s Char-Grilled Skewers

DIY Charcoal Grill & Chef’s Char-Grill

Sumiya features a bountiful spread with various options as it specialises in Izakaya or Japanese-style tapas (a large variety of small dishes). One highlight is its DIY Sumiyaki Charcoal Grill.

Although it is a charcoal grill, there is very little smoke unlike the usual type of charcoal barbecue we are familiar with. The Soft Smoked Squid ($4++) is delicious, with a rich taste, and it has a soft and fluffy texture.

Yet another highlight is the Chef’s Char-Grilled Skewers, seasoned with salt, teriyaki or miso. These charcoal-grilled fish, meat and vegetables are specially-designed by Sumiya’s Japanese Master Chef. The Char-Grilled Pork Belly ($4++) is tender, juicy and tasty. The Char-Grilled Beef ($4++) is also tender, and the flavour comes through well.

There is no need for seasoning other than a bit of salt.

The charcoal fire seals the essence of the food, making it crispy on the outside and juicy inside. The smoking charcoal effect also enhances the flavour.

True to a traditional Izakaya menu, Sumiya also serves an array of other dishes such as deep fried items ($6-$8.80++), Sashimi ($8.80++), Sushi ($7.80++) and others. The Takoyaki ($8.80++) here is especially good, as the chef comes from Osaka, from where this tasty little octopus snack originates.

Happy Hour & Lunch Sets

This month, Sumiya also launches a new lunch menu, with many set lunch options. Select from 13 different sets, ranging from $16++ to $26++. In addition, the drinks bar is free flow during lunch time at just $3++ per person.

What’s more, Sumiya has joined forces with Asahi to pledge “Every Hour is Happy Hour” with Asahi draft beer at the lowest price in town at $4.90++ per mug.

Do pop by to check out the great food, sentimental decor and cheap drinks. From the customers present, it is apparent that many Japanese nationals have given their stamp of approval. The best part is, even on weekdays, the last order is at 10pm.

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya, Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, #12-02 (rooftop), Singapore 238896, Tel: 6509 9618

Republished from Issue 48.


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