I went to a great Sumo wrestling event that the LivingSocial 918 F Street team put together for their DC-based clientele. Not only did we get to watch two giants battle it out, but we got a glimpse of YO! Sushi‘s new US-based operation. YO! Sushi has been around in the UK since 1997 (I had the chance to eat at the one a couple of blocks from Bedford Square in London in the summer of 2003), and it has expanded to Ireland, Portugal, UAE, Bahrain, Norway, and other locations globally. The first US location will be opening at Union Station in DC on 11 July 2012, and this was a great kickoff.
I have to say that when I tried YO! in 2003 I was not thoroughly impressed. I was more a fan of the kaiten-style sushi bar than anything else there. However, the quality has been stepped up based on what I tried, and I’ll definitely be stopping in to their new location once in opens to see if it continues to live up to my new expectations for it. The nigiri sushi was especially fresh and tasty, and the California rolls (although atypical from the norm – I think mine was crab and avocado with no cucumber) were better than most I’ve tried – rather than using crab stick, it tasted like fresh crab (definite taste difference between the two).
We started off with some edamame and sashimi. The sashimi, fresh and delicious, came out drizzled with a yuzu salsa that made the dish tangy. I was a fan of this course, and I’d get it again at the restaurant…maybe two of them.
While we dined, the director of the US Sumo Championships, Andrew Freund, went over some facts and information about Sumo in general, and US Sumo in particular. We then met the evening’s challengers – Byambajav Ulambayar of Mongolia, seven-time winner of the US Sumo Open gold and three-time World Sumo Champion, and Kelly Gneiting of Arizona, winner of four US Sumo Open medals and three-time US Sumo Champion (340 and 415 lbs respectively).
Next up on the menu was Spicy Tuna Tartare on Crispy Rice, and Shrimp Tempura Glazed with Creamy Miso. I’m not sure that I’ve had crispy rice sushi before, but this wasn’t bad. The shrimp tempura with the somewhat sweet miso glaze was tasty…it reminded me a little of fried and glazed Chinese dishes.
While enjoying the course, the match began in earnest. There were five rounds total, with Ulambayar winning 3-2. It’s pretty impressive seeing guys of this size throw each other around…I certainly wouldn’t want to see one of them charging at me.
Next up on the menu was the previously mentioned nigiri sushi (Albacore Sushi with Citrus Ponzu) and maki (California Roll). Both were excellent.
The drinks for the evening were great too. Everyone was provided three sakes during the courses, and there was also beer, wine, and a cocktail called “Sumo Smash” (vodka, St. Germain, Aperol, and citrus) available for a price.
The first and second sakes were filtered (thus, they were clear), and the third was unfiltered (and therefore appeared cloudy). The first, Diamond Sake (probably Momokawa brand, but that wasn’t specified), was smooth and buttery. The second, Rock Sake (possibly this one), had what I picked up in the taste as a hint of blackberry. The third was Pearl Sake (probably also Momokawa, based on this review which picked up on the same tastes), and was tropical in nature…I definitely picked up on the taste of pineapple in this one.
The Sumo Smash was also a good punch-like cocktail…I’ll have to recreate that.
For those in the audience who were brave enough (i.e. not the author), there was an opportunity to go head to head with a wrestler of his or her choice (yes, one female tried it out), adding some additional interactivity to the event.
Dessert was Mochi Ice Cream of various flavors. I grabbed a vanilla one, although they also had green tea and strawberry available. Essentially it is ice cream inside of a rice cake. I’m not usually a fan of stuffed rice cakes, but with the ice cream it wasn’t bad…the shell was much less tough than the others I’ve had.
Great event overall…this one sold out faster than any I’ve seen on LivingSocial. If they offer it again I’d highly encourage it as an option for a fantastic date night out. Check out YO! Sushi when they open, and if you beat me to it let me know what you think.