1030 W Arkansas Ln, Ste 204, Arlington. 682-320-8558. 11am-8pm Sun. 11am-9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Fort Worth may lead Tarrant County’s ramen race, but Arlington has recently stepped up with Piranha Killer Ramen, Ninja Ramen, and Little Tokyo, to name a few. Sumo Ramen is the newest entry into the veritable stewpot of noodle joints in central and southern Arlington, not too far from UTA.
All of the major highlights from Japanese menus are present here, including tonkatsu, yakitori, and teriyaki chicken, but there are also some unusual offerings, like spicy wings, scallops on the half shell, and takoyaki – round dumplings filled with various meat or seafood.
My dining companion and I gearshifted our culinary expectations when we saw the tempura shrimp appetizer. The shrimp (presented as 3-inch, tail-on bullets rather than in their traditional curled cooked shape) arrived coated in Panko breadcrumbs as opposed to sometimes-fluffy, frothy, slightly greasy tempura batter. But the crisp, light batter didn’t obscure the sweetness of the fresh shrimp and added a nice texture.
The curry shrimp was also bit of a surprise. Unlike Indian and Thai curries, which are often tempered with a shot of coconut milk, cream, or tomato sauce, Japanese curry is thick like gravy, and the spices are undiluted so that the raw flavor of cinnamon and slightly bitter curry land squarely onto your taste buds. The curry arrived with the sauce on half the plate, with rice piled on the other side, and the shrimp on top of that hillock. Chunks of perfectly al dente carrots and potatoes were scattered around the edges, along with a peas-and-carrots mixture that seemed superfluous. On the plus side, I could choose to use as much or as little of the sauce as I wanted. On the minus side, the entree seemed disjointed, and the onions and bitter curry dominated the plate.
The kitchen offers 13 ramen options, and I didn’t realize the complexity of the various broth ingredients until I did a little research. The luxurious simmered-for-hours tonkotsu broth is a little clearer, while the extra salty Shio ramen and the miso ramen are yellow to brown. The flavor of the namesake Sumo packed plenty of salt, but the fish-tinged taste perked our attention – kelp, tuna flakes, and some dried sardines were simmered in the mix. Flawlessly cooked pork, green onions, plump shrimp, and at least an ear of corn competed for space with the toothsome noodles. A soft-cooked egg, halved and boiled just until the yolk became creamy, proved a luscious complement to the slurp-able base. The bowl was served with a gratis bubble milk tea (no substitutions from the menu), and the boba’s honey-sweetness balanced the acerbic black tea nicely. As a sort of reverse amuse-bouche, the beverage made for a nice little dessert.
Of the three entrees, the simple beef fried rice captured our hearts and stomachs. The rice was imbued with an unusual, delicious smoky flavor, and the small pieces of meat were surprisingly tender. Bits of scrambled egg and more of that peas-and-carrots mixture finished the dish. One plate easily served two people.
All of the entrees were generously portioned, virtually guaranteeing a late-night snack. The restaurant looks pleasant, with exposed brick walls, a dozen tables, and additional seating at comfortable banquettes.
It’s lovely that those of us on the eastern side of interstates 20 and 30 don’t have to drive to Fort Worth to find decent ramen – and it’s even nicer that we get to support a mom-and-pop.
Tempura shrimp $4.95
Sumo ramen $10.45
Beef fried rice $7.95
Curry shrimp $8.95