22 January, 2009

the barefoot baklesa restaurant review: Sumo Sam at Powerplant, Rockwell

The Barefoot Baklesa’s Restaurant Rating Guide

The way I see it, I might as well create a way for me to rate the places where we go to eat. A taste for fine things, or for food in this particular case does not necessarily mean eating out at the most expensive places but rather enjoying a meal prepared in the best way possible whether it be some local eatery by the street corner, a specialty food cart, or the most fashionable eating places about town.

I have decided to use plates as a way to rate them. Yeah I know, how original, right? [ Sarcasm… hint… hint… ] First, let’s break them down… Not the plates, the categories, I mean… We will get to the broken plates later.

Impression and Ambience – the appeal of most restaurants depends on the combination of two things: the aesthetics of the venue and the atmosphere it provides. I decided to generalize these under the category of Impression and Ambiance. Yes, we have heard of a many bad Filipino movies and sitcom situations where they call an order for Ambience and that is one over-plucked chicken. Ambience is a critical mix of visuals, light, music, and thematic treatment while Impression is the initial reaction you experience upon entering a place.

Service – from the moment you walk into any establishment, there are certain expectations you have of the way you should be served. So don’t go on expecting five star service from a place that can’t provide it, right? Service in itself is basic courtesy extended to any customer, the quality and type varies over the practicality in a particular type of service an establishment sees it should provide under the operating circumstances. Service is comfort, good manners, and efficiency.

Food – of course you went there to eat, right? The way I see it, every establishment that serves whatever cuisine it chooses, must at least provide each dish with the appropriate preparation, taste, and presentation. Each place, having a particular specialty, surely by the taste of their own could distinguish themselves from the rest, by my standards, if I could at least finish it, then it is edible enough. If I want to come back for it, then it’s worth trying. And if I’m raving about it, then get off your bums and go there!

Value – simply put, is what they are asking you to pay for it worth it? Value for money is probably the most practical part of this equation.

So, each category shall be rated thus for their desirability or lack thereof:

Must be a Wedgwood Plate – I’m raving about it!

Nice Plate – Quite satisfied.

Clean Plate – Good enough?

Dirty Plate – There’s room for improvement…

Cracked Plate – Leaves much to be desired.

Broken Plate – There’s no hope for this one.

The other evening, my family had dinner at Sumo Sam’s at Powerplant Mall in Rockwell; much to my disappointment, as I had expected to dine at C2 next door. Their rice rolls leave much to be desired -for we pretty much ordered half of the types of rolls available on the menu and there was nothing with the way they were made that excited me about them. Their so called dynamite roll with the crisp salmon skin was no different from the Philadelphia, the crispy kani, nor the California roll and two others I can’t seem to recall. I was looking for certain distinct characteristics in each one but only found variations on the mayonnaise and the freshness a bit questionable. Their gyoza was not so appetizing either; because I don’t know if it was supposed to have an aftertaste or not. Their version of yakisoba was a bit ‘woodsy’ even if I enjoy mushrooms myself, the ratio of the noodles against the mushroom and the vegetables seems to be out of proportion.

And talk about efficiency, or the lack thereof, my lychee and rose drink never got to my table until forty-five minutes later. This was above the fact that the other drinks –which were the most basic like sodas and their iced teas were called to their attention or follow-up three times before they arrived.

And don’ let me get started on the fish…well, I already have, might as well…hahahaha!!! Isn’t fish and the preparation thereof what makes a Japanese meal? At least in my book it is, and no self-respecting place that serves this particular cuisine would do so much as to remove this pleasure I derive from fish. However, I thought having ordered the sea bass, the salmon, and the gindara, would have been the saving grace of this meal but then again, Sumo Sam does not fail to disappoint, right?

All three fish dishes seem to me like they were intentionally made to swim in a sea or stream of butter. I don’t know if they were serving me fish or a tin of that Queensland butter to begin with. The salmon seemed a bit overdone and tasted like butter, the gindara was too salty and tasted like butter, and what a surprise for the sea bass also tasted like butter! In all fairness to the miso soup, that particular bowl made the meal somewhat…the word escapes me…bearable?

There were fourteen of us at that dinner, mostly kids, who were happy enough with the generic teriyaki dish or the ika fry they had. But my Aunt Mirza and I were by our end of the table doing our bit of iron chef judging and watching my niece Zeejay eat chicken teriyaki with her pink Hello Kitty baby spoon and fork which made it quite an interesting evening. My mother on the other hand was content enough to mention missing the old Japanese restaurants from a decade or so ago. Knowing my mom, that’s quite a subtle hint that she was not enjoying the food either.

Ergo, the Barefoot Barefoot Baklesa gives Sumo Sam the following plates:

Impression and Ambience: Sumo Sam sure showed a Nice Plate
[At least they got this one right…]

Service: I think Sumo Sam needs to see if it has a Cracked Plate
[the servers were all over the place, they brought over three orders which were not ours, and the drinks were more than acceptably late…]

Food: Sumo Sam puts his food on a Broken Plate
[I don’t think this place could redeem itself from getting pushed out of the doyo –Sumo metaphor, if you get it…]

Value: Sumo Sam charges this much for a Broken Plate
[We paid around 9,000 plus Pesos for that meal and it did not seem worth it.]

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