Sumo Bar Happy is a new Japanese watering hole that had recently sprouted up at the ground floor of the HDB estate at Waterloo Street being located beside Follia which we had been keeping up to date on ever since we noticed the renovations being carried out there.
Sumo Bar Happy is the latest concept by the same people who run Standing Sushi Bar, Tanuki and Salmon Samurai amongst a list of other establishments. Taking up a rather small space, the majority of the seating available at Sumo Bar Happy is by the bar counter, with only a few dining tables near the entrance. The design of the space here does remind us of Teepee Bar & Restaurant; a row of what was previously windows when the space was run by its former tenant had been cut-out as a ledge for extra seating space for those looking to have drinks here. Decked in a rather minimalist theme, the design cleverly uses solid colour against pastel colours for contrast; something that is soothing and refreshing, opposing the dark colours that bars usually adopt. The menu features a number of bar bites, while those who are looking for something more substantial might want to opt for the Mini Don and Ramen available. Being a bar, Sumo Bar Happy also carries an extensive list of alcohol such as sake and cocktail as well.
Going for a side to share, we went for the Pork Trotter Korokke; the pork trotter had been de-boned and slow-cooked; it is then coated in a layer of Panko crumbs before being deep-fried — it also comes with a saucer of sour cream on the side. The pork trotter are absolutely tender here with all the fats being melted from the slow-cooking; this eliminates the need to chew once one bites into the crisp deep-fried batter. The inclusion of the sour cream on the side might sound rather weird, but it helps to neutralize the slight porky flavour of the pork trotters by providing a creamy, slightly zippy touch to the pork knuckles that help to cut through the meatiness overall.
We also gave the Mini Short Rib Don a go. Whilst being mini-sized, we found the portions rather reasonable and was rather adequate for those who are also ordering alcohol on the side. The beef short rib had been braised with their very own yakiniku sauce as well as Red Wine Tare — the result was tender slices of meat that absorbed the braising fully that was free from gaminess and carried a deep savoury flavour; certainly went well with the rice that came with a tinge of sweetness. Parts of the rice was also drenched with the sauce to enhance the flavours, while a saucer containing sauce and an egg yolk also came on the side. Dab the short rib into the saucer to coat the slices of meat for an even tastier affair, for the egg yolk attempts to thicken the flavours of the sauce which go well with the short rib.
We have heard from some that the ramen (such as the Bone-in Ramen) listed on the menu here are big enough to be shared, thus we ended up going for the Char Siew Ramen which felt like a more appropriate option given how ramen is usually a more of an item easier to be consumed individually than shared. Here, the Char Siew Ramen comes with a rather interesting broth which would probably cater to those who are more used to lighter-tasting broth such as Shio or Shoyu as opposed to heavier ones like Tonkotsu. The broth here comprises of Nagano Pork stewed in Mirin; the result is a broth that carries just a light hint of meatiness at the front but carried a slightly more uplifting finish. It is also noted that the flavours of the broth does not exactly build up, but stays pretty constant throughout the entire bowl. The bowl of ramen comes with condiments such as black fungus, seaweed and bean sprouts along with the tender and lightly smoky slices of Char Siew and thin ramen noodles with a bit of bite.
While we did not order any drinks during our visit to Sumo Bar Happy, we did find that their list of alcoholic beverages was rather extensive with quite a number of fun and interesting drinks that we might probably order if we ever revisit. Overall, our experience was one that was considerably good; the food was generally delicious and well-executed with a few daring attempts such as the Pork Trotter Korokke; it would, however, be interesting to see if patrons would be receptive to the larger bowls of ramen here such as the Bone-in Ramen which are meant to be shared. It is also noted that while we do understand that there is a space constraint considering the layout of the shop space, there were a few seats which were rather claustrophobic to be seated at — an example would be the counter seat at the window that is situated next to the entrance where we were seated which was a little cramped considering the human traffic happening behind the seat when customers are getting seated or when food is getting served. That being said Sumo Bar Happy is a spot that we found to be relatively different from the other brands operated by the group; a spot that would be a great hangout spot for those working near the area for a couple of drinks or two in a casual setting to wind down after a hectic week.
Sumo Bar Happy
Blk 261 Waterloo Street