Sumika – Los Altos, CA

Sumika is hands down our favourite yakitori joint in the Bay Area. For Meep’s 2nd birthday dinner of the year, we made plans w DK & V to eat at Sumika. Something came up for them but we went anyways since we can’t say no to the addictive Momo skewers!

I made reservations a few days ahead so we were seated pretty soon after arriving. The servers are never very efficient at clearing tables, so even with 3 empty tables there was still a couple standing around waiting for a table before us and was still waiting after we were seated at our reserved table.

Menu – pretty much the same for a while now, couple removals n additions each trip every few months.

Summer is over but the summer special page is still around. A couple items from the spring specials have now made it on the permanent menu.

Very extensive alcoholic menu

We ordered:

Sumika Salad (Half order) $5

It is almost a no brainer that we HAVE to order this salad. Something about this coleslaw like salad topped with crunchy won ton skins and tender shreds of chicken breast is very satisfying. The dressing is a type of peanut dressing with hints of wasabi that makes it quite unique. The cabbage is always shredded so finely that it is completely coated with the dressing. I noticed that is half order is still about 2/3 the size of the regular, more than enough for 4 especially if ordering a range of other dishes.

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2 orders Momo @$3.30 each

My absolute favourite. Simple chunks of chicken thigh seasoned with just salt and grilled to perfection. There is always a nice crisped layer that is a little charred; with tender juicy insides bursting with flavour at every bite. The chicken is seasoned right through and holds up to the smoky flavours from the grill so well.

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Momo Spicy $3.50

Meep’s favourite. The chicken is again grilled perfectly, with a nice crisped layer from the grill. Along with the smoky flavours, there is an addition of sweet spicy mayo and shredded green onions giving the skewer an edge. Every bite was bursting with natural chicken juices, smokiness from the grill and a nice kick from the spicy mayo.

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Soli Lesu $3.80

Premium chicken thigh with balsamic soy sauce. This was quite disappointing skewer, especially for a special on the Summer menu. The chicken was bland, barely any balsamic or soy flavours were detected. A lot of charred bitter bits from the sauce that wasn’t so pleasant. What was interesting is that the chicken thighs were wrapped in chicken skin individually, so skin gets nice and crisped at the edges while maintaining a very juicy thigh bits.

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Shiitake Mushrooms $2.80

Meh… Fresh grilled shiitake mushrooms. Very earthy and quite pungent; an acquired taste probably? But it didn’t do much for me.

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Tontoro $4

My second favourite skewer of all time! Grilled pork cheeks seasoned w salt. The marbling of fats on the pork cheek gives this skewer a nice texture after grilling. The outer layer has a nice smoky crunch with juicy fatty center. Very rich and so so satisfying. I can’t describe the texture of the pork cheek but it is nothing like regular grilled pork.

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Karaage $7

Signature organic fried chicken~ Delicious!! Came to the table piping hot and ultra crispy. I was a tad disappointed when I noticed it was made with chicken breasts meat but it was amazingly juicy. The skin was so reminiscent of “deep fried pork skins” because they were so crispy and stayed crispy even when cold. There was about 6 pieces of well marinated (very simple flavours of ginger, salt & pepper) white meat coated with this amazing coating that is so crunchy even when the dish is no hot.

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Oyako Don $12

Another must order dish. Rice topped with grilled chicken thigh, and an egg that is cooked using the heat from rice, chicken so it is quite runny. The chicken has the signature smokey flavour from the grill and so it permeates the whole dish making it a step above all the other oyako-dons I have tried. The perfectly cooked rice is smothered with a light sweet soy sauce concoction and the whole dish just has a nice balance of sweet and salty.

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Frozen Custard Pudding $5

The signature dessert was quite disappointing. The custard was definitely frozen and cut into cubes. It tasted better when it started to melt to it original form – while frozen the custard left a weird film of butter on the roof of my mouth. It was egg-y and not sweet at all; just the typical flavours of a creme caramel with a sweet brown caramel layer on the top. Good flavours but just doesn’t work frozen. As it melted, the “film” of grease on the mouth effect decreased so the dessert was better then.

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Houjitea Creme Brulee $5.50

The creme brulee has intense tea flavours, smooth and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. This brulee overpowered the frozen custard because of the tea flavours but was a great palate cleanser and pretty darn good. I didn’t care for the overzealously burnt sugar crust. It was not just toasted but burnt black and very bitter.

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Extras:
Coke
$2.50

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Total Damage: $74.46 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 (Great)

In the span of 2 years and multiple trips, I am happy to say the quality and flavours of the food is still consistent! I love this place and if it a tad cheaper I would make it a regular haunt. The smokiness in their yakitoris has a very unique flavour profile that is prominent in their skewers, not makes them quite distinct from other establishments.

Service wise, nothing as changed either. They are very slow and inefficient. I don’t mind waiting for the skewers because they are grilled to order and the grill is only so big but they take forever to bring drinks, get our orders and rarely check back.

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Sumika

236 Central Plaza
Los Altos, CA 94022

(650) 917 1822

Sumika on Urbanspoon

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