I heard a lot of promising things about a restaurant in Scottsdale called SumoMaya at 6562 North Scottsdale Road.

It was created by Chefs Matt Zdeb and Hisao Andy Suzuki, and together they celebrate cuisines of Mexico and Asia, with a unique seasonal fusion cuisine. This concept sounds a little kitschy but we were told it was a fun place, so we went in hopes of a great dining experience.

The place is located on the Northwest corner of Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road, in a newish development which consists of a marketplace with retail stores and restaurants and a condo. They provide free valet parking. The restaurant is huge and quite attractive with an indoor and outdoor space. There is a large, fake tree as an anchor in the middle of the restaurant (my mother would call it a dust collector). There is also a central bar that is extremely busy, probably because there is a huge cocktail list with drinks in the reasonable $10-12 range and two huge screen TVs showing different sports games on them. SumoMaya is busy, trendy, and energetic with music blaring (you have to scream to each other to be heard).

The menu is large – two pages long. They encourage sharing here. There are sections of sushi, sopas, ceviches, tiraditos, tortillas, rice and noodles and some choices from the wood-burning grill.

Our enthusiastic waiter Christopher, bless the poor guy, was as sweet as could be, but if you don’t have a photographic memory, you need to write down the order. So he forgot to bring things we ordered, and he forgot our plates … maybe he couldn’t hear us because it was so damned loud.

I wish I could say the food delivered or was show stopping, or even solid. But sorry to say it was mediocre. It may look appealing in the pictures but it was all a disappointment. Too bad, because many items sounded so good. For instance, the Sumo Tiradito that was highly recommended by our waiter, which consisted of hamachi, passion fruit, lemon sorbet with dulce de leche and warm cholo (large Mexican corn). The hamachi was SO fishy and when we mentioned this to our waiter, he said that is because hamachi is fishy… What?? Next, we tried the Rollo Chignon, again a beautiful presentation with adobo grilled shrimp, guacamole, cilantro, jalapeño, red lotus root chips in a balsamic strawberry glaze. But, it had absolutely no taste. The Spicy Tuna Tacos were not spicy, they came in a crispy wonton shell with avocado, cabbage, pickled onion and Masago. The tuna was ice cold (a pet peeve) and the dish though tasty was watery.

We were told that the Vietnamese style “shaking” beef was a house specialty. Oh boy, if this is the signature dish, they are in trouble. It consisted of funky tasting filet mignon in a dark soy, with scallions, and mirin in a chili lime sauce, and we had some heavily dressed sautéed asparagus with a sesame and hoisin dressing. The one dish we did enjoy was the guacamole. SumoMaya serves five different types: traditional, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, lump crab and bacon. We opted for the pomegranate, it was great – chunky accompanied with crispy homemade corn chips.

We ordered dessert but it never came. It was hard to be mad at Christopher as the place was busy and he was overwhelmed. What I don’t understand is, why the place was busy, but I guess it was good for the masses, pretty and nonoffending (except to me).

Fusion can work if the food is skillfully prepared. It just doesn’t work here.

Arrigato! Gracias!

Happy dining,

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