Saturday, June 02, 2012


I've never really been a person moved my sentiment. People, animals, places, all are just dust in the flux of life. To look back upon them and feel for them almost feels like a fear of progress. Forget the past, ignore the bridges, reach for the future.

It's a nice theory, but one that gets completely destroyed when your favourite all you can eat Korean barbeque joint falls into the hands of new management and everything that made it great disappears overnight (looking at you, Shinara).

It happened a few years ago and ever since I've been looking for a place that will let me cook my own meat and will let me eat as much as I want for a fixed price. Just thinking about all of that meat would leave me with a huge hole in my stomach. It was a special place reserved for copious amounts of meat.

So Suminoya had a hell of a lot to live up to. They're from the same restaurant group as the lovely Menya and Mappen, so there was promise.

While it's only a short stroll from Martin Place, you'd never think that there was anything at the end of the nothing-street the restaurant is in. Even when you approach it, knowing it should be there, it doesn't reveal itself until the last minute.

You walk in and the flames and sparks from the chef's grilling station spit and crackle at you to reward your frightening journey down the frightening alley.

Slide into a booth and order the 750ml bottle of plum wine. Anything else is foolish.

There are two menus: premium and gourmet, but different ones are available on different days. Or something. I don't care. There is the promise of unlimited meat so I'm already in the hazy meat zone. You pay your fee, order as much food as you want in 60 minutes, eat as much as you want in 90 minutes, leave and feel uplifted, despite the additional kilograms you're now nursing in your body.

Before the meat arrives, there's a good chance to test the sides for quality. Seaweed salad is delicious. Yukke (often served frozen at other places) arrives as a bowl full of fresh, ruby meat, egg yolk and everything else that makes yukke such a great tartare-esque dish. Kimchees are all solid and are an essential side to counter the meat that's about to arrive. The higher priced gourmet menu comes with sashimi with isn't bad at all, if slightly tired looking.

Portion sizes on the first order are tiny, so order a lot.

The meat and the grill arrive and it's so much better than the weak gas at a lot of Korean BBQ places. The charcoal of the Japanese yakiniku grill promises to get hot as hell and impart an awesome flavour.

And, indeed, it isn't too long before the fat dripping off one of the meats turns the grill into an inferno. It's thrilling and delicious at the same time, which is the best kind of fun.

Our allotted ordering and eating time is a blur of flame, meat, deliciousness, smoke, additional plum wine and general Good Times. The quality of the food is great for the price, the service is attentive and the restaurant is nicely designed.

I may have found my new muse. Now the restaurant just needs to try and survive for a while with me and my friends trying to eat it into the ground.

RATING: Will return to [?]

Suminoya Japanese on Urbanspoon

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