Stepping into Sumō-Ji strikes like the beginning of an adventure. Its façade, a conspicuous wall of red bricks in the lobby of Veranda Hotel @ Pakubuwono, would capture the attention of anyone passing through. A careful inspection would reveal that part of the wall is a door, and behind it is a stretch of dusky hallway that leads into the restaurant.
Upon arrival, one can immediately spot the variety of experiences on offer, which is set up to be a one-stop destination for a laidback jaunt. An izakaya-bar-cum-open-kitchen, a dining area (both indoor and outdoor) and even an independent lounge provide opportunities for a wide-ranging affair. Whether to enjoy a meal omakase-style or dive into Sumō-Ji’s stock of Japanese craft spirits and signature cocktails—choices here, like the seating spaces, are plenty.
When it comes to the city’s adaptation of Japanese cuisine, alternatives often swing from staying true to traditional recipes to restyling them into localised fusion fares. Sumō-Ji and its modern interpretations sit somewhere in between. Delicacies like the Hamachi Dome (Japanese amberjack over rice topped with a dose of red caviar) and Crispy Potato Salad present familiar taste profiles while adopting a contemporary display, served in plates that encourage dish-sharing with close company.
As for drinks, sake reserves the spotlight. Bottles come from the Hyogo, Niigata, Fukui, and Iwate prefectures, each with distinct characteristics influenced by the area’s quality of rice and water springs, as well as signature production techniques. One worth highlighting is the Konishi Fuji No Shirayuki from Hyogo; a product of the oldest sake brewery in Japan, the junmai daiginjo (sake of the highest quality) is elegantly well-rounded and pleasantly fragrant.
That said, modern influences also roll over to their tipples by way of cocktails. Oriented to be light and refreshing, they go nicely with the sweet and smokey yakitori dishes Sumō-Ji serves as bar food. A case in point is the Shiso Club, which is a mix of honjozo sake, yuzu lemon and ginger syrup topped with a shiso leaf.
All these make for an eclectic but still distinctly Japanese experience, put forward by the ambience that envelops the restaurant: east-meets-west features and contemporary colour pops clash harmoniously in the interior as designed by Jakarta-based SSOM Studio.
Where adventurous combinations come together with ease, be it for evening festivities or intimate meals, on the whole, Sumō-Ji warrants multiple visits for anyone to fully experience the range of indulgence it has on deck.
Until its official opening on 2 February 2022, reservations are highly recommended.