The Hours: Happy hour is daily from 2 to 6 p.m.
Perfect for: Bringing anyone to happy hour, if they don't mind standing.
Interior: As my happy hour companion noted, you could bring anyone to Sumo Maya and chances are they would enjoy it. Meeting some hip, twenty-something friends for brunch? They'll appreciate the colorful, open decor and the artistry of the giant tree in the middle of the dining room. Taking your parents out for dinner? They'll be impressed with the creative menu that both puts a twist on certain classics and introduces diners to unusual ingredients. Grabbing a drink with some coworkers? They'll enjoy choosing between the signature cocktails, margaritas, sake, wine, and beer offerings.
See also: Caffe Boa: Happy Hour Report Card
And they'll have plenty of time to decide while you wait for a spot around the bar to open up. While we can understand wanting to limit happy hour only to the bar area, we think Sumo Maya could afford to give a few more tables over to the social hour cause.
The place is huge, and there were plenty of open tables even closing in on 6 p.m. on a Friday. But the bar remained full throughout our experience, with a constant crowd lingering around, hoping to nab a bar stool as soon as one opened up.
Despite the crowding issue, the bartenders handled the situation well, though they did seem a little stressed and understandably short with customers.
The Food: Sumo Maya's happy hour food selection is split into four categories, $3, $5, and $7 choices and then tacos at any 2 for $3, any 3 for $5, or 4 for $7. Each section showcases the restaurant's signature mix of Asian and Mexican influence.
The $3 charred edamame was a light but interesting starter, with the combination of deep smokiness from the charring and brightness from an abundance of citrus. The soy beans seemed a little too tart until we dipped them in the creamy miso butter, which perfectly balanced everything out. Even though it was the simplest and cheapest of our happy hour choices, it was the favorite.
Next time, we'd skip the negihama yellowtail roll ($7) and maybe try one of the handrolls instead. While the yellowtail was fresh and flavorful, there were no green onions in our sushi. Or, if there were, they were so scarce we didn't notice them. We're not sure which is worse.
The tacos made up for our lackluster sushi, though. We went for the Korean beef and al pastor tacos to take full advantage of the fusion cuisine that Sumo Maya boasts. The pickled veggies and kimchi counteracted the sweet pieces of tender beef and the fried onions on top added the saltiness needed to round out the taco's flavor. While there weren't any surprises with the al pastor taco, every ingredient was well-executed, and we commend Sumo Maya for not messing with a classic.
The Drinks: We were a little worried while looking over the specialty cocktails, which are all $2 off during happy hour. With names like Kumquat, Pineapple, and Lychee, we prepared for the cloying sweetness we were sure these fruity drinks would bring. We decided to bite the bullet and try the Lychee anyway, and were pleasantly surprised to find the soho lychee liqueur, pear puree, and orgeat did not overpower the gin.
Still, the Lychee was decidedly sweeter than the Tamarind, which featured Wild Turkey rye, the drink's namesake, lime, and ginger. The cocktail struck the right balance between being sweet and sour, making it an easy yet interesting drink.
Sumo Maya also offers $2 off glasses of wine and $1 off draught beers.
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Conclusion: Despite the limited space, happy hour at Sumo Maya doesn't disappoint, and hey, we can't blame the hoard of customers around the bar for thinking the same thing. The food offerings provide a nice sampling of the fusion the restaurant is known for, satisfying cravings for everything from sushi to tacos and whatever lies between. The cocktails were thankfully not what we expected and have us wondering which too-sweet sounding drink we'll try on our next visit.
Don't miss: The charred edamame Skip this: The negihama yellowtail roll