Sumo Maya Mexican/Asian Fusion Opening

The modern décor, a quality sound system, beautiful lighting and a large life-like tree arching in the middle of the room; these are the first things you will notice at the new Sumo Maya. The restaurant opened Monday the 16th of June and we were invited by German Osio the owner, to take it for a test drive during a soft opening this past weekend. German also created and owns Local Bistro in North Scottsdale and Central Bistro in the Biltmore/Arcadia area. Sumo Maya’s atmosphere is a tease to the senses and a precursor to the menu which features so many different types of tapas, everyone is sure to find something they will enjoy. A relatively new fusion concept of Mexican & Asian, may seem like strange bed fellows but in reality they mix nicely and provide a truly unique experience for your taste buds.

We started with 2 different types of guacamole; one with bacon and another with pumpkin seeds. Both were freshly made and zesty with the bite of the lime juice soundly pronounced in both versions. They were served with fresh tortilla chips which also come seasoned and quite enjoyable on their own. Moving on to our tapas, the table shared tuna ceviche which was plated beautifully and served in a coconut within a bowl of ice. In fact all the plates were so beautiful to the eyes; I noticed the table would at times take a moment to enjoy the pure beauty of it before destroying it with our chopsticks. Next up were multiple sushi items including; maya roll with a surprising outer layer of rice crispies, very fresh tuna nigiri, Suzuki roll with spicy tuna, avocado, and a chipotle mayo, and tuna tataki with sweet passion fruit caviar.

The next few dishes were shared around the table but could easily be a meal in itself. Tempura rock shrimp were covered in a spicy mayo with black truffle aioli and summer peas. Very similar visually was the calamari which was also lightly fried in a tempura batter but with a peanut flavored sauce. Both disappeared quickly from the table, but it might have been because they both were very tender and tended to melt nicely on the tongue. The second, third, and forth bite happened before you knew you were hogging the dish. It was time to pass the dish to others and move on to more of the items.

Half lobster covered with a crab and panko crumb seasoning was succulent and tender. We were offered forks but none were needed, it came out in nice size bites with the mere force of our chopsticks. Spicy crab noodles ended our Asian spectacular, with beautiful Portobello mushrooms and a not to spicy sauce it would be a perfect size for a main meal for anyone.  The table was getting full but we had a couple more items to try. Chicken and Pork tacos the size of a baseball in circumference was a nice return to the Mexican side of the menu. The fact was that the table tended to the Asian side of the menu for no particular reason, but there were plenty of other more Mexican style dishes we didn’t get to try which will need to be experienced on our next trip. It looks like another success is on the horizon for German Osio.

For more information see the Sumo Maya ingredients page:

http://whereshouldweeat.com/ingredients/sumo-maya/

All Aboard The New Southern Rail

Get your train ticket punched and take a ride with us as we take a look around the new Southern Rail restaurant. Last week started a new venture for local chef Justin Beckett, as he opened his second restaurant this time in uptown Phoenix. Aptly named as it sits directly along the light rail route, every time a train goes by and honks it horn, customers are encouraged to cheers, the “Southern Rail Salute” he calls it. It is another subtle reminder of the railroad inspired décor. It won’t make you feel as though you were at Thunder Mountain in Disney but you’ll get the hint. It is a beautifully designed space with plenty of windows and natural light to allow everyone with a view of the passing trains as they munch on the southern inspired cuisine.

Formally the site of the Beefeaters restaurant, it has been completely transformed into a mixed use complex. The complex is called The Newton, after the original owner of Beefeater’s. It includes Changing Hands Bookstore and Southern Rail as the open components and the final piece will be Southwest Gardener, which will open later this year. The restaurant has incorporated a lot of reuse from the original Beef Eaters. Wood from the original restaurant was used in some of the flooring. The booths which have been reupholstered were also saved. Those grand chandeliers were also saved and oddly work so well with the color palette of the space. So many interesting touches flow throughout the restaurant, not only will you see those original booths but take a look up above the bar, the shields on the wall are original Beefeater’s shields. So if you were a fan of Beefeaters, take solace in the fact that there was a lot of care taken to keep as much as possible of the original structure.  It’s not all old pieces that will make you smile though, take a look at the community table with the zinc inlays it resembles the shape of old train tickets. The light fixtures bring to mind a traditional European train station; can’t you see your station stop dangling? If the wine cellar door is closed you can see it looks like a caboose.  I won’t ruin the largest surprise but take a look up from your table if you are sitting inside and try to figure out what you are looking at on the ceiling. Its message sums up what Beckett wants to accomplish at Southern Rail.

If you ever visited Becket’s Table you probably are aware there are hidden pigs throughout the restaurant. A clever nod to the theme of the menu, which is all things pork. At Southern Rail you will begin to see southern touches above the kitchen. Instead of pigs, look out for pickling jars and southern cook books. Just like the pigs you’ll continually start to see it grow through donations from customers along with their own additions. You can see the personality of Chef Beckett come through in this new space and there are even subtle similarities to Beckett’s Table. But two of the major things you will love about this new venture is the outdoor area and the bar area. With 100 spaces outside there is significantly more space to enjoy the outdoors. The front patio will include as close to temperature control as possible with misters, fans, and coolers. So even as we enter into the summer it will most likely be a comfortable place to sit. During our cooler months there will be a fantastic fireplace surrounded by glass. It was important to Chef Beckett to keep the line of sight open throughout the restaurant.  No matter where we went you always had a clear view of the kitchen. The bar allows for both inside and outside seating and it is so very inviting. During the day the way the bottles are placed it provides a very cool effect. But it is at night that this area will shine. Lighting is being installed under the shelves to lite them up and provide a visually stimulating experience.

There is much more to see and experience. There are already plans to expand their offerings, once dinner gets up and running smoothly, they will add both lunch and brunch offerings. He currently expects this to start after the 4th of July. Additional ideas like offering bagged lunches to take with you into the ballpark if you are heading to a game are being discussed. There are still some final touches that are being worked on and there is another big addition with banquet rooms on the way. The rooms will allow anyone to host large gatherings with the always amazing food catered by the Chef. If you have a small group there is also a smaller private party area inside the restaurant that you will be able to reserve as well. The one thing you won’t ever have to worry about stopping is seeing Chef Beckett walking around and meeting his customers during service, as he puts it, “That’s the fun part”.

For more information check out their ingredients page: http://whereshouldweeat.com/ingredients/southern-rail/

 

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Inspired New Spring Menu

Rolling out a new menu can be an exciting time for a restaurant and so when we were invited to come take it for a spin we had to say, “Yes”! This past week Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails rolled out their spring menu to the delight of WSWE’s resident food experience gurus. It was a dinner that gave us a lot of background on the chef and how the menu was developed along with a trip back in time for our foodies. In a word we found the new menu to be, inspired. So sit back and relax as we share what we had the pleasure to experience.

To start the Blue Hound changes its menu for every season so don’t be shocked if you see multiple menus throughout the year. It’s not because it wasn’t successful, in fact it probably is due to all the amazing ideas that go through the Chef’s dreams. Yes, Chef Stephen Jones dreams about food, the absolute sign that he is doing exactly what he should be, feeding his customers. One of the more interesting options we tried was a  Cured Strawberry and Fennel Flatbread. It didn’t really appeal to us initially but upon its arrival we were excited by its pure fresh beauty. It did indeed look like a garden party on a flat bread. Its taste was one of contrasts with the sweetness of the strawberry to the peppery arugula and licorice-like flavor of the fennel. A choice we would recommend to anyone while combing through the menu and finding themselves unable to decide due to the shear vastness of fresh seasonal options.  It was then that Chef Stephen explained that he developed this combination in a dream and after several tastings added it to the menu. Many of the menu items came about in similar fashions, it is almost as though someone was sending him a divine message of miraculous proportion.

The restaurant does its best efforts to source all the food and cocktails from local producers. A trend in the industry we love to hear and learn about. Not only does this support the local economy but it also ensures that the food sitting in front of you is as fresh as it is going to get. One such item on the menu is their Hickman’s Farm Deviled Eggs, no offense mom, but these eggs are probably the best deviled eggs we have ever had in our lifetime. It sounds like a massive overstatement doesn’t it? We don’t take these things lightly nor would we exaggerate the flavors. The yolk was creamy and seasoned with a spicy Dijon that was neither over heated or bland. It was topped with smoked ham and what I would assume was just a dash of paprika. The item which set these apart was the fried yolk sitting in the egg’s crevice under that creamy yolk. What a pleasant surprise as you bite into the egg and the flavors meld together, leaving you with a spicy creamy Dijon on your palette. We also ordered the Tater Tots which were rolled perfectly incorporating smoked bacon & chive and came with a romesco sauce. The sauce was a spicy sriracha base but only added a small level of heat making it enjoyable for all heat seekers and those with more sensitive stomachs.

It was time to move on to a Crispy Salt n’ Pepper Shrimp. The shrimp came complete with head and legs still attached fried and then covered with a nice salt and pepper rub. Chef Stephen encouraged us to eat them with our hands as that was how he envisioned it being eaten.  If you want to follow his complete vision, he also eats the shell and head. We opted to remove the aforementioned items and focus on the shrimp but we did eat with our hands. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and the rub was perfect, leaving it on our fingers for a little finger licking after promptly devouring the plateful.

Our meat and game selections included the BBQ’d Beef Short Ribs and Smoked Lamb Ribs. Both dishes had so many similarities that we can describe them together for the most part. For both dishes we again had a fantastic combination of flavors that accentuated each other in both contrast and comparison. The meat in both dishes were smoked and mostly fell off the bone with little effort. However, the short ribs came with a creamy grits side all presented in a cast iron bowl and the lamb came on top of 1000 bean salad and green hummus, beautifully displayed in layers. We enjoyed a moment of silence during this portion of the meal as we realized we had come to a close on our stomachs limited capacity. We would be taking the rest of this portion home to re-experience the next day.

One comment we would like to expand on was the recommended practice of using your hands during the shrimp dish. It was part of the enjoyment with this plate, mostly because it became another conversation piece during dinner. In fact, the whole experience was one that promoted conversation about the food and also brought us back to some personal past memories. For example, my cocktail was called the Lawless and it incorporated burning pipe tobacco into a glass then serving my whiskey in it. Instantly, it conjured memories of my uncle and for my dining companion it was memories of her Grandfather. This immediately created conversation and made us ponder how rare it is that the whole dinner experience itself connects at such a deep level. We experienced this throughout the dinner. Whether it was the smells of the whiskey, the tastes of the tater tots, the hand peeling of the shrimp, whatever it was, it felt almost choreographed for our lives. Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails gave us an experience that we won’t soon forget.

Get all the information you need here to plan a trip to Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails.