Taste the Art of Sushi
When considering where he was going to open his new sushi restaurant, David Seo performed a unique type of market study in several potential locations. He would find the nearest Starbucks and count how many customers entered the establishment on a given day. He analyzed foot traffic in towns like Summit, Madison and Westfield, but there was no contest when it came to Ridgewood. With more than 1,500 people walking into the Starbucks on the day David was there, he made his decision. The downtown energy, warm community and vibrant business district were impressive, and he made plans to open Shumi.
Accompanied by Aik, his master chef and mentor, David—originally from Seoul, Korea—understood that the legacy of their combined experience and success was going to result in the rollout of a unique dining experience for northwest Bergen County. Aik has been mastering the art of sushi for more than 50 years, beginning in his hometown of Fukushima, Japan, and then on to various restaurants across New Jersey. David had multiple positions with renowned restaurants such as Sushi Samba and Nobu. He was managing 35 chefs with OTG Management when he met Aik, and they have worked together ever since.
“Shumi” is Japanese for “hobby,” which is how Aik likes to thinks of his craft. The unique theme of the restaurant is “omakase,” which translates to “chef’s choice” or “leave it up to you.” This is where the dining experience itself really gets you hooked. The delight of omakase is sitting at the immaculate quartz sushi bar and succumbing to the guidance of your chef, who knowledgeably directs feasting your senses on the techniques, tastes and traditions deep within the art of sushi. The omakase style of service allows the chefs to create a unique dining experience by serving guests “piece-by-piece” while explaining the art of sushi, the significance of their culture and their personal dedication to quality.
Only Scottish salmon, bluefin tuna and the finest Japanese fish are plated for customers. The focus on quality demands a great deal of preparation and time. Salmon is aged gently and seasoned with salt and vinegar to make it tender and flavorful. Almost all sauces are made on-site including ramen broth and eel sauce, which cook for a week. Some sauces have very few ingredients and demand time, testing and tasting throughout the cooking process in order to achieve the desired taste.
“It’s very difficult to get that perfect balance with only a few ingredients, and Chef Aik always reminds me of one thing: simple is the best,” David says.
The care and artistry in the placement of the elements in every dish are a literal feast for the eyes. From paper-thin squid to lobster claws, flowers and garnishes, watching the care taken in arranging each piece is like watching an artist at work. Aik’s beautiful food presentation incorporates images of the Japanese landscape from his childhood memories. Mountains, rivers and gardens are all characterized through winsome and imaginative arrangements in homage to his heritage.
“When you enjoy something, 100% of your potential will come out,” David says.
70 E. Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood