Full flavor, light-bodied meals that don’t weigh you down are essential for summer survival in South Texas. Sushi is my go-to meal when the South Texas summer heat has passed uncomfortable and spends months in the ridiculous range. There’s nothing better when the temperature hits 100 degrees than fresh sashimi, steamed edamame, seaweed salad and miso soup. Yummi Sushi distinguishes itself amongst a growing Japanese food scene in SA, and with summer already here, you will want to add it to your weekly meal rotation.
Start off with an order of the spicy edamame, sautéed in chili peppers and oil. Don’t consider this an appetizer; it’s more like Japanese chips and salsa, a perfect complement while you search the menu and place your drink order. Yummi features several Japanese beers on tap, including Kirin Ichiban, Sapporo and Asahi Dry as well as a solid selection of wines. But do yourself a favor — go for the sake, a Japanese wine made by fermenting rice. If you are new to sake, start off with a cold unfiltered selection like Sho Chiku Bai Nigori. This is your gateway sake, and you want to walk through this gate! Cold unfiltered sake is light-bodied with subtle fruit undertones. It’s cloudy in appearance and perfectly refreshing.
Yummi offers some other fun sake selections like flavored cold sake and more traditional hot sake. While you enjoy the sake, order some appetizers. Yummi’s menu is extensive, and their dishes are ideal for sharing. Order a few appetizers, and hold onto one menu; order a few more dishes; a few more drinks; a few more dishes; a few more drinks, you get the idea.
For appetizers, the gyoza, Japanese homemade dumplings, are deep-fried, although you can have them steamed if you prefer. I recommend the deep-fried. This preparation crisps up the edges of the dumpling, creating an excellent textural contrast to the soft dough and light filling. The other must-have on the appetizer menu is the tempura. Yummi’s tempura is light, flaky and well seasoned. You can choose from vegetable, chicken, shrimp or a mix; the shrimp is a real standout.
Yummi’s dinner menu offers traditional Japanese sushi alongside delicious Tex-Mex sushi fusion. Deukbok Cha, the owner and operator of Yummi, says they ensure freshness by ordering through many different high-quality vendors who deliver throughout the week, which helps keep ingredients fresh; their high standards come through most in the sashimi and nigiri. Nigiri is sushi rice covered with a slice of sashimi or raw fish; it is always the best order to test the merits of a sushi joint. Yummi’s nigiri is on point. The rice is sticky and flavorful, and the fish is served at the right temperature, chilled to ensure freshness but not so cold as to deprive you of the delicious flavor. Sushi-grade salmon is a real treat, buttery texture with only a slight fishy taste, but venture beyond the salmon and try the eel, tuna or octopus. They offer a sampler if you aren’t sure what to choose.
If you have been hiding California rolls when you and your friends go for dinner, Yummi is the place to try something new. You can trust the integrity of the food and ingredients. If sushi isn’t your thing, try one of the entrees such as the Chilean sea bass or the Korean barbecued ribs. Sushi rolls in San Antonio are fun combos of cream cheese, jalapeños and, at times, brisket! Yummi offers a huge selection of this kind of roll, and if you want, they will deep-fry a few of them. You need to try at least one of these deep-fried rolls. Deukbok recommends the habañera salmon roll and the Boerne roll.
Yummi is a family-owned-and-operated Japanese restaurant with two locations. The first, in Leon Springs, opened in 2010. Their second location opened in 2016 at West Avenue and Bitters. Happy hour and lunch are great times to stop in and give Yummi a try.
By Mitchell Scott Austin
Photography by Janet Rogers