Stepping into Scottsdale's SumoMaya sets the tone for the distinctive menu. Its bold and colorful decor fits its vibrant Mexican-Asian cuisine in a bright and airy space with 30-foot ceilings and an open kitchen, all anchored by a carved tree in the center of the room. Executive Chef Roberto Madrid (formerly of Deseo) is well-known for his creative dishes which draw on his Mexican roots, 30 years of experience from time spent in New York to Morocco, and culinary tours through Latin and South America.
At SumoMaya, Chef Madrid and his talented team skillfully weave the ingredients and nuances of these varied cultures into creative, innovative dishes. Although SumoMaya opened in June of 2014, this was my first visit and, as a huge fan of Chef Madrid, I couldn't wait for the SumoMaya experience.
Early on a Thursday evening, the large space was full with a lively, happy crowd. I asked our friendly waiter Zack if it was always this busy. "No," he laughed, "this is actually a little slow for us." A good sign for what was to come. The comprehensive menu is divided into Guacamole (five variations), Sopas, Ceviche, Vegetables, Sushi, Tortillas y Mas, From the Wok, and Wood Burning Grill. So many mouth-watering combinations enticed me, how to decide? Fortunately, we wouldn't have to. As I received a media invitation, gregarious and welcoming General Manager Jason would take charge and send out some of the restaurant's most popular dishes and his personal favorites, along with an introduction to their specialty cocktails.
We sipped on a refreshing Patron margarita, elevated with Combier orange liqueur and housemade limonada made with yuzu, as we snacked on a house specialty - creamy guacamole enlivened with dried fruit and crunchy pops of tart pomegranate.
Next was one of my favorite dishes of the night and a prime example of Chef Madrid's brilliant Peruvian touches. Sumo Tiradito. Tiradito is the Peruvian version of sashimi or crudo. At SumoMaya, silky slices of hamachi are draped in a tangy passion fruit sauce and embellished with dulce de leche, lemon sorbet, and warm choclo (Peruvian corn). It's a brilliant combination, with the sweetness of the dulce de leche combining with the piquant sauce and bright sorbet to perfectly accent the pristine seafood.
We were told another crowd-pleaser is the Spicy Peach cocktail made with peach limonada, Combier peach liqueur, and a gentle kick of chile de arbol-infused tequila, garnished with Thai basil. If you love well-balanced sweet + heat in your cocktails, as I do, this one's for you.
Ecuadorian ceviche plated a wood-roasted tomato salsa spiked with chile and citrus crowned with shrimp poached in a seasoned court bouillon for an extra boost of flavor and avocado to add creaminess.
Coconut ahi tuna tartare was as picturesque as it was delicious - a half coconut on a bed of ice filled with cubes of big eye tuna tossed in a creamy Vietnamese coconut dressing with Mexican limes and jalapeno, and decorated with orchids and crispy plantains. (Tip: After your shell is empty, ask the kitchen to chop up the coconut meat for round two).
With such an interesting menu, you'll find lots of signatures at SumoMaya, and the Sumo-Rita, the house margarita, is another. It's easy to see why when you try this frozen blood orange margarita made with tequila, lime, blood orange liqueur and puree, and topped with Grand Marnier foam. And, as Jason advised, it makes a perfect "palate-cleanser" between courses. I like how he thinks!
The Billionaire Roll is a splurge but worth it. Imagine a decadent roll stuffed with sweet snow crab meat, asparagus and a touch of soy aioli. Then drizzle it with truffle butter and finish with thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth A5 Wagyu beef. The finishing touch? It's topped with a tangle of green onion and a shower of gold flakes.
The Skinny Margarita seemed more like a luxurious margarita, combining Azuñia silver tequila, Veev açaí spirit, limonada and plump blueberries.
Our next course brought a best-seller, the Miso Sea Bass, a velvety miso-marinated filet of bass draped in an umami-rich caramel sauce and topped with a thatch of pickled onions and cilantro.
SumoMaya not only knows its way around seafood, but chicken too. Crispy chicken mole arrived as battered nuggets of juicy chicken enrobed in a complex mole sauce imported from Veracruz, garnished with sweet plantains and toasted sesame seeds, and served with a mound of fluffy steamed rice.
As I was posting cocktail pictures on social media, two knowledgeable food-industry friends, Melissa and Susie, urged me to try the Green Magic Mojito. I do what I'm told, and it was a creamy, delicious blend of coconut rum, coconut puree, "green magic" horchata, Nigori sake, and mint and a perfect finale cocktail. They know what they're talking about!
How to end such a feast? With an award-winning indulgence, SumoMaya's Tres Leches, winner of a 2016 Foodist Award for Best Dessert. Be sure to save room for this toasted marshallow-covered, "three milk"-soaked slice of buttery pound cake plated on a pool of horchata and strewn with chocolate rice krispies.
SumoMaya is located at 6560 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale and serves lunch and dinner, with brunch on the weekends. Take advantage of their Social Hour/Happy Hour daily from 2 pm to 6 pm and Late Night 9 to 11 pm (10 pm to 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays). 480-397-9520
I received a complimentary media invitation