The idea behind this series is fairly simple: My girlfriend and I will go out to eat at a Chattanooga-area restaurant and then describe our dining experience there. Keep in mind that this is not a food review per se, but instead an attempt to relate to readers our single, one-time experience at a restaurant. It just is what it is, as they say. There will also be pictures. Lots of pictures.
Where: 6025 East Brainerd Road
For more information: Click here
I am a 30-year-old voracious eater of anything weird, while my girlfriend, age 24, is the complete opposite. This makes dining for us a strange affair. I enjoy a tremendous amount of flavor and complexity, but her M.O. is "simple, no frills." These dining adventures will test both of us at various restaurants around Chattanooga. This week, we decided to travel to the Far East ... Brainerd. Kumo beckoned.
Kumo is an unassuming little restaurant located in a strip mall at the corner of East Brainerd Road and Lee Highway. You’ve probably driven past it a couple of times and thought, like I did, "Wow, I’ll be that place is terrible." Kumo is sandwiched between a nail salon and a wild bird store, begging more jokes and upturned noses. Once you step inside, though, everything changes for the better. Several tables were available, but Lauren and I decided we wanted to be romantic for a change and sit side-by-side at one of those booth/table hybrids. The menu is upscale Japanese food at a moderate price point with a variety of sushi/sashimi and special roll combinations. Lauren is a hibachi fiend and felt immediately at home inside Kumo. We figuratively kicked ourselves for not having visited before this meal. You should also watch the promotional video featured on the home page.
The first thing you notice about Kumo is just how clean it is on the inside. The tables were immaculate, and there wasn’t a speck of anything on the floor. Isn’t it sad that we were impressed that a restaurant was clean? Our servers were efficient and quick all night. There is not what I call "country chit-chat" going on at Kumo. You know about this, right? It’s that incessant rambling and personal information you often get from bubbly servers at a meat and three. The service at Kumo was very professional. The ambience of Kumo is exactly what you would expect from a sushi/hibachi restaurant. However, the lighting was much brighter than, say, Rice Boxx in Hixson. The restaurant was about half-full on this Tuesday night. We were famished.
I became a chilled sake convert while in Arizona recently. Sake—an alcoholic beverage made with fermented rice—is consumed piping hot by most casual drinkers. However, the really good stuff is served chilled. I ordered a bottle of Sho Chiku Bai Nama sake, which probably translates to "delicious, cheap, heavenly mouth water." Chilled sake can be refreshing and, like beer, relatively low on the alcohol content. Lauren had water and ordered a giant pile of salted edamame. Immature soybean pods boiled and salted are the equivalent of bread at an Italian restaurant or fried rice noodles at a Chinese establishment—a necessity, in other words.
Kumo offers a pretty standard sushi special of two special rolls for $16.95. I’m not a sushi aficionado (that’s fun to say out loud), but I enjoy quality sushi when I can get it. For dinner, I ordered two special rolls—"volcano" and "phoenix"— and a couple of pieces of octopus sushi to eat slowly while staring intently into Lauren’s eyes. We are in love, folks. Lauren ordered the teriyaki chicken/steak and rice combo, served with a side of soup and salad. The soup, unlike a standard miso variety, was heavy on the pepper and light on ingredients. Essentially, this was just a bowl of broth. My sushi arrived first, and I managed to eat about seven-eighths of the plate before throwing in the towel. The phoenix roll was easily the highlight of the dish, with spicy, tempura-fried softshell crab and a variety of other flavors. I enjoyed the volcano roll much less, but it was still delicious. The octopus tasted like octopus. You should try it sometime if you haven’t. Lauren won the "meal game" with her tasty combination of steak and chicken. She kept the leftovers, and we walked out with our bellies full.
Would we go back?
This unassuming little restaurant is a sushi lover's dream. I would love to hand a $50 to the sushi chef and see what magic he could perform. Kumo has a lot of regulars and people in the know, but for first-timers, we were treated like longtime customers by the staff. I will reiterate again how incredibly clean the interior of Kumo was. The prices are moderate—our meal was about $40 plus tip—and the food is delicious. With the exception of a few places downtown, I cannot think of a better option for sushi on the Brainerd side of town.
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