BY NICOLE KIEFERT | PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
Inspired by watching their own families run businesses, Hungry Sumos Executive Chef Thitichai Rukchon and his business partner, Jirapa Lertsinsongserm, opened their own sushi bar in September of 2017. The Bay View restaurant offers fresh sushi, several incarnations of ramen and a variety of entrees, many of which, Lertsinsongserm proudly notes, are easily modified to satisfy vegan customers. The pair are especially proud of their entirely vegan fried rice that gets its umami savoriness from mushrooms.
Rukchon and Lertsinsongserm frequently travel to other cities to see what’s new in the culinary realm and use the dishes they sample as inspiration for their menu, especially when it comes to creating unique dishes for weekly specials to lure new customers and keep faithful customers coming back for more. One of the most popular dishes offered on the menu is the stunning aburi nigiri set, shown here, which Lertsinsongserm says is “good for the customer who doesn’t eat raw fish.”
“It’s making it easy to eat the meat without [it being] raw,” Lertsinsongserm explains. “This is the big new experience that a customer who loves eating raw fish could try too.… So, [it’s a] pretty good dish for all customers who love the sushi.”
To create the visual marvel, a variety of fish, including salmon and yellowtail and supoa tuna, are lightly seared then decked with toppings like fish eggs, sweet chili, Thai chili and lacy microgreens to accentuate the flavors of each individual fish. Rukchon’s top secret sauce is served on the side for optional dipping, and a few pieces are topped with gold leaf to add additional sophistication to the dish.
“It’s fun,” Lertsinsongserm says. “Into each bite, you’re gonna get different textures and flavor too.”
Rukchon and Lertsinsongserm both credit the success of Hungry Sumo to their hardworking team, honoring them daily by shutting down the restaurant between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. to give employees a lunch break and a chance to bond with each other.
“We have a good team,” Rukchon says.
“Everybody,” Lertsinsongserm adds. “Front of house, back house, hot kitchen, sushi. Everybody.”
Hungry Sumo, 2663 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 595-9656, hungrysumosushibar.com MKE