Popular stateside sumo viewing and Japanese food culture event Sumo Stew will return to Brooklyn on November 12 to coincide with the upcoming Kyushu basho. The event will take place at The Brooklyn Brewery and you can click here for tickets.
Sumo Stew founders Michael Harlan Turkell and Harry Rosenblum will reprise their popular gathering surrounded by a host of exciting vendors, and a portion of the $60 ticket fee will support The Japan Society.
I visited Sumo Stew in July, and you can check out my review of the proceedings by clicking here.
November’s event will feature a “seasonal chicken chankonabe” from Momo. Punters will also receive a bento box featuring a smattering of delectables from local vendors. Area craftsmen will also be on hand and this time, there will additionally be a rakugo performance from Ken Saito.
As Bruce shared with Tachiai readers earlier in the month, our friends at Sumo Stew hosted their 22nd event during the Nagoya basho. This event took place at Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn, NY. As I coincidentally happened to be in New York at the time, I decided to check it out with a couple of friends who were new to sumo!
For the latest event, Sumo Stew founders Michael Harlan Turkell and Harry Rosenblum teamed up with Arrogant Swine’s Tyson Ho to deliver what they called a “North Carolina BBQ-style Whole Hog” chankonabe. Arrogant Swine is a barbecue restaurant and bar located in Brooklyn’s industrial East Williamsburg neighborhood, and so this take on chanko was a fusion of traditional chanko flavors with a falling-off-the-bone pork twist.
While the chanko is perhaps the main event of Sumo Stew, it is far from the only item on offer. Upon entering the venue, attendees were given a bento box full of items from four different local vendors:
This menu was further augmented by the presence of a number of whiskey, wine, and sake vendors. A number of representatives from the enormously popular tea brand Ito En were also on hand doling out bottles of Japan’s favorite Oi Ocha.
Besides the sumo and the amazing food & drinks, one of the aspects of Sumo Stew that shouldn’t be overlooked is that the organisers bring in all sorts of vendors with specialties that run the gamut of various facets of Japanese culture.
All sorts of hand crafts were on display for sale, and there was also representation from the US branch of Japanese cutlery brand Kikuichi Cutlery (their stateside headquarters are located not far away from New York City in nearby Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey). They had an impressive array of knives on hand for demonstration.
One brand I hadn’t been aware of before attending was NYrture, a natto company based in New York City. For Western palates, the fermented soybean can perhaps be an acquired taste, but this vendor did a great job of pairing what is often a divisive ingredient with incredibly interesting flavors to create a really cool snack. I especially appreciated the combination of black natto with coconut milk yogurt, honey, and blueberry.
Owing to the time difference between Tokyo and New York, it was clearly difficult to line up live sumo with the evening dinner hour. The folks at Sumo Stew had a playlist of videos from the first several days of the Nagoya basho projected onto a big screen inside of the venue. From time to time they cut in trailers from various features from an upcoming film festival put on by the event’s partners at the Japan Society in New York.
There were quite a few regular attendees on hand, and many of the folks I talked to seemed newer to sumo and were somewhat more connected to the food and cultural elements of the event. In that sense, Sumo Stew is doing a really great thing by bringing members of the local food community together to get an initiation into the ways of a sport that many of us have come to dearly love. On the flip side of the menu which all attendees were given was an overview of how the sport works, its rules, traditions and key vocabulary words to help newcomers understand a bit more about what was happening on the big screen.
I had a chance to speak briefly with the event’s organizer Michael Harlan Turkell during the event, and he mentioned that the Sumo Stew team are looking to continue bringing the event to other cities around America in the near future for forthcoming basho. So if you’re interested in attending, perhaps there will be one nearer to you in the future, and of course we’ll continue to share news of this unique Sumo-themed event here on Tachiai.
I must admit, I have attended Sumo Stew in New York, and the chanko, while completely unconventional, was absolutely delicious. The next gathering to watch sumo and eat chanko will be July 17th at Arrogant Swine, 173 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206. On the menu is what is being called “North Carolina BBQ-style Whole Hog chankonabe”
Your humble Associate Editor looks to be in the New York area over this weekend due to work commitments. I am therefore letting Tachiai readers that I am going to attend Saturday’s Sumo Stew event in Brooklyn.
The folks who are putting on this event have even generously offered a discount code, KANPAI10, for readers to use if they want to claim any last minute tickets. Personally, I love Chanko, I love sumo, and I find sumo fans to be some of the best folks on Earth. So if you are in the area, consider making it an evening.