Sumo Maya in Scottsdale: Mexican Style Pho and Korean Beef Tacos
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Lauren Saria Korean Beef Tacos from Sumo Maya in Scottsdale.
Restaurant: Sumo Maya
Lauren Saria Inside Sumo Maya
Location: 6562 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Open: About two weeks
Eats: Mexican Asian
Price: $30 per person
Blending two cuisines into a single dish so that both heritages are perceptible but not competing is a challenge. It requires a good understanding of flavor and a creative mind that can deconstruct traditional combinations only to rebuild them in entirely new ways.
At Sumo Maya in Scottsdale chef Herb Wilson does just that. Not every dish on the restaurant's lengthy menu is a perfect 10, but overall it does an excellent job of proving that fusion food doesn't have to be the sort of clunky fare with which we've become all too familiar.
On our visit to the stylish new restaurant we nabbed two seats at the kitchen bar, which offers a great view of the culinary action. From our seats we could watch chefs making corn tortillas, blending fresh guacamole, and slicing off pieces of al pastor from the trompo, or vertical rotisserie. The dining room, though large, manages to still feel comfortable instead cavernous, as does the wrap-around patio, which was packed with diners even on a recent summer night.
Lauren Saria The Passionfruit: Montelobos mezcal, passionfruit, cucumber, fresh lime, and ginger beer.
We started our meal with a pair of cocktails from the menu of 10 drinks crafted by longtime Valley drink master, Bill DeGroot. We were pleasantly surprised to see the drinks priced between $8 and $10, a reasonable price point considered the cocktails include spirits such as Bombay Sapphire and Bulleit Rye.
We opted for the Passionfruit ($10), which combines Montelobos mezcal, passionfruit, cucumber, fresh lime, and ginger beer. The passionfruit gives this cocktail a nice sweetness up front that's followed by a lingering smokiness thanks to the mezcal. The combination makes this a near-perfect summer drink for those who don't favor too much fruit.
When it comes to ordering food, Wilson says the idea is to dine tapas-style and that about five plates should be enough food for one person. We have to say we think three dishes may be enough for most, as some of the servings are pretty large. Or rather, they're as large as they should be for the price.
We ordered several plates from various sections of the menu. They arrived at the table in no particular order, so don't expect to have your meal coursed out in traditional style -- unless you ask.
The first plates to arrive were an order of the Charred Edamame ($6) and the Mexican Style Pho ($8) . Neither ended up being our favorite dishes of the night, but were each a fine way to start the night. The grilled edamame, blistered black on the shell, was a refreshing new way to enjoy the Asian starter, but the miso butter sauce made them messy to eat and ended up overpowering the Mexican Tajín seasoning.
Lauren Saria Charred Edamame