SakiTumi Grill & Sushi Bar
by Nancy Silver
SakiTumi is a fairly new Japanese restaurant that has only been open for about a year. This unique establishment is located at 807 Gervais St. and takes the place of its predecessor restaurant, The Rhino Room (which was absolutely terrible). SakiTumi has quickly become a hot spot for sushi enthusiasts, rated best sushi for 2007 by The State city newspaper. For those who don’t like sushi don’t worry, they also offer an array of tapas style dishes, making it a perfect compromise for couples. I attended the restaurant with my husband and another couple. Two out of the four of us don’t even like sushi, but since the restaurant has added some new menu additions as of October 1, 2007, even we had to give sushi another try.
We started by giving our drink orders. The menu included a long list of new cocktails for us to try. Three of us ordered drinks, all different, but all containing red bull. SakiTumi definitely caters to the younger crowd. While understandable in a college city, the majority of college students hit up the local bars in the five points area. SakiTumi is located in an area known as The Vista, which is more popular with young professionals. My beverage of choice for the evening was the Femme Fatal Martini: Grey Goose Citron, Cointreau, and Red Bull make up this smooth concoction. If that’s not enough to give you wings, the glass comes sugar-rimmed.
The only tapas ordered on this visit was the drunken shrimp, a beer battered fried shrimp tossed with a Captain Morgan rum sauce. This was a bit to spicy for my taste. On previous visits, I’ve had the panadera breads, 3 flavors of flat bread with 3 different dipping sauces. I’ve also enjoyed the lobster wontons. The thai-chili dipping sauce that comes with this is similar to a sweet and sour sauce but way better than anything you could find at your local chinese place. The Saki Salmon is another favorite, mixing flavors of black olive pesto and sundried tomato tapenade with angel hair pasta, topped off with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Just keep in mind this is a tapas restaurant. Don’t expect a big bowl of pasta when you come. You only get four small piles of angel hair with this plate but it’s well worth it.
For sushi we shared a rainbow roll, octo-roll, spider roll, and kazimoto. The rainbow roll offers an excellent variety of fish and as the name suggests, is a colorful representation, very appealing to the eye. Eel sauce is drizzled across the entire roll. While this doesn’t sound very appetizing, it is surprisingly good. Not fishy at all, more of a soy and sugar flavored syrup and consistency. This led me to order the kazimoto, a tuna and cream cheese roll that is tempura flash fried then drizzled with a spicy ponzu sauce. This opened my eyes to a world of sushi possibilities. It was absolutely delicious and the ponzu sauce had just the right amount of kick to it, adding spiciness while chewing but not leaving my mouth burning afterwards. The spider roll was a bit peculiar, seeing as how they use tempura crab instead of shrimp in their roll, but no sushi was left sitting on our table. The octo-roll was chewy as can be expected but a tad bland my husband tells me.
Service can be slow and the wait can be long on Thursday-Saturday nights, and it does get expensive if you’re ordering enough to fill you up. However, the quality of the food and drinks more than make up for what’s lacking in value and wait staff.
Food: 4.5 Stars
Drinks: 3 Stars
SakiTumi Grill & Sushi Bar
807 Gervais St.
Columbia, SC 29201