Flyer staffers roll into new sushi restaurant

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Photo: Jake Shook

Flyer staffers Drew Fannin (left) and Luke Sheidler (right) try out Sumera, a new sushi restaurant in Kettering. Fannin, the sushi veteran, handles his chopsticks with ease, while the sushi rookie, Sheidler, struggles and smiles with his California Roll.

When Kettering teens go out to eat, they usually have wings or burgers in mind. An invitation to go out for raw seafood and vinegar-flavored rice rolled in seaweed? Um, that probably doesn’t happen very often.

But it happens more now than it did 5 or 10 years ago, and the opening of a sushi restaurant in Kettering in November may signal that sushi has staying power.

When people think about sushi, they usually think of the Japanese culture tied to the food. Most Americans weren’t raised thinking that raw fish was healthy, but pockets of Americans have adopted the sushi culture into their eating routine.

The Flyer wanted to see what the big deal was and how an average Fairmont teen who is unfamiliar with sushi would react to the raw fish fad.

Two staffers made the journey to Sumera, a small sushi restaurant that opened on Far Hills Avenue in November. Luke Sheidler, The Flyer’s sports editor, had never tasted sushi while I confidently walked in the Sumera doors as a sushi veteran.

The mission: To see how a sushi rookie reacts to this new dining experience.

Luke and I walked into a friendly atmosphere, even though some construction was still taking place in the back of the restaurant, which is acceptable in a restaurant that’s only two months old.

The layout was very similar to a Chipotle or Hot Head Burritos, as there was an assembly line of employees ready to create our meal. There were a lot of options to choose from. You can get the traditional sushi roll, a sushi bowl, or create your own.

When you create your own sushi roll, there is a plethora of customization options, such as your choice of meat or fish, vegetables, sauces, even cream cheese. As for creating your own bowl, you can add any ingredients the rolls have to offer, but it also comes with traditional Japanese noodles.

As I’ve had my fair share of sushi rolls before, I decided to try something new, and decided that a chicken and bacon roll would be a refreshing change of pace. What? Chicken and bacon in a sushi restaurant? Well, Sumera’s complete name is Sumera: The American Sushi Company, and the menu seems to reflect the fact that some Americans just aren’t ready to go with the raw fish yet.

In addition to chicken and bacon, the menu offers steak and even peanut butter and jelly — all in a roll.

As we ordered the food, two employees created it right in front of us, with a Chipotle-style feel. Luke had ordered a California roll, as that’s the best first-time eating experience for a sushi beginner. We got our trays and made our way to the nearest table; there was a variety of seating options to choose from.

Before he even got to taste his sushi, Luke realized he had a problem. He fumbled with his chopsticks and ultimately decided to eat with his hands.

Luke was wary about trying his first bit of the sushi, but when he did, he realized he actually enjoyed it very much. He said he was hesitant about the first bite, perplexed with the idea of eating uncooked food. But after the first bite, he let out a sigh of relief, realizing that all the hype was justified.

“I thought it was going to be gross because it was raw,” he said. And with that, he finished the roll in a solid 5 minutes, full and content.

As for myself, I enjoyed the quaint American taste with the Chicken Bacon roll. We had both finished in about the same time, noting the great taste and the feel of the new restaurant. Overall, it was a great atmosphere, excellent food, and good customer service.

“Definitely coming back,” said Luke.