Sumika – what is one of the best yakitori restaurants in the Klang Valley – likes to play hard to get. Getting through their landline is a game of chance, aided by the challenge of scoring a reservation even on a weeknight. Unflinching and fearless, I call in early on a Sunday night but to no avail. I decide to drive to the restaurant, but the lights are shut, its inexplicit sign bearing no sign of life. The restaurant’s lack of an official online presence only thickens the air of mystery around it.
A few nights later, post-reservation, I’m finally sitting in the smoky, low-ceilinged confines of Sumika. My dining partners and I sit past the sliding doors, where a grey view of an ever-shifting SS15 meets us. The shophouses below are taking a beating from the rain, which beckons us even more dangerously towards the prospect of sizzling meat on sticks.
The waiters are keen and smiling, if slightly bumbling. We are recommended the chicken thigh muscle from the off-menu specials, as well as the baked rice ball with butter. We order both, on top of a smorgasbord of grilled meats ranging from pork to chicken. The beef tongue with ponzu arrives first. It’s cold, tangy and good enough to line the tummy, but not nearly as good as the meats that come after.
The chicken thigh muscle is tender; the chicken breast with yuzu avoids the dry route by way of a wonderfully tangy marinade cast with a spike of heat; the beef ribs are salty with a gaminess that is partly shielded by miso; the pork belly (endearingly marked as ‘pork berry’ on the menu) is stunningly fatty and charred; the pearl onions are sweet and juicy in the middle. From the get go, one can surmise that Sumika aims to maximise flavour without compromising texture. It’s a non-threatening, care-induced philosophy that is oftentimes lost in KL.
Dinner is wrapped up with a finale of baked purple sweet potato, which is given a good, loving bath in melted butter. We polish it off so quickly we find ourselves losing all concept of shame by sticking our forks into the bottom of the foil to scrape the charred bits. At the end, all that’s left on the table is the crusty, buttery rice ball topped with a soft whisper of a shiso leaf. We take turns to flake the rice grains with chopsticks before paying just under RM100 for a meal worthy of many dreams, and many more visits.
19 Jalan SS15/4
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun, 6.30pm–12midnight|