It’s testament to the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine, when two new, full-service sushi houses open minutes away from each other in a part of the city already near-saturated with Japanese restaurants.

Sumo Sumo has long been popular in Sherwood Park. It recently replicated itself in Edmonton, in the former Century Grill/Plates International Buffet building on Calgary Trail south of Whitemud Drive.

Takami Sushi is in a new commercial building on 61 Avenue just west of 104 Street.

Sumo Sumo Edmonton is a Chevrolet — a high-volume big restaurant where the food is good, but not great.

Takami Sushi is a Cadillac — smaller, much more attention to detail and presentation, about 20% more expensive than Sumo Sumo for comparable dishes, but top quality.

Sherwood Park Sumo Sumo owner Joe Chan opened Plates in early 2016. For whatever reason, Plates is gone, replaced by an Edmonton version of Sumo Sumo.

Sumo Sumo Edmonton has some drawbacks. The restaurant is slightly outdated. The conversion did not include an interior make-over.

I was mildly disappointed, not in the food itself, but in Sumo Sumo Edmonton’s presentations. Visual attractiveness is very much part of Japanese cuisine — more so than in almost any other ethnic food.

A California cone — crab meat, avocado and cucumber in a seaweed wrap — was tasty, but plopped on a plate with no thought of presentation. The assorted sashimi was as the raw fish delicacy should be — chilled, fresh, no hint of tiredness — but with no serious attempt at visual attractiveness. A seafood udon had a good broth and tasty seafood within, but was without delicacy. An assorted tempura dish wasn’t pleasant — a generic batter on vegetables simply piled in a bowl, with a watery sauce.

Takami Sushi operates on a much higher aesthetic level than Sumo Sumo Edmonton. It’s new, spotless with a big central kitchen all metal and glass. The dining experience is more than food. The décor is all about the Japanese culture’s attention to detail.

Takami knocks the ball out of the park with its presentations. Every dish is a visual feast. The highlight is a deluxe sashimi almost twice as expensive as Sumo Sumo’s, but so beautifully arranged as to be a work of art. On arrival at the table, a dry ice cloud erupts from the dish, making it other-worldly.

Takami’s fire sake roll is fast becoming a must-have Edmonton dish — its presentation, using crispy shredded yam and panko crumbs as decoration, is breath-taking … as is its taste and texture.

Takami differentiates itself with a separate high-end menu featuring premium fish cuts flown in weekly from Japan. Off that menu, we ordered a thinly sliced salmon tataki (seared and peppered on the outside, in an onion-sweetened tangy sauce) that again was stupendously tasty, and at $13 represented great value for the price.

Takami stumbles in service. While pleasant, our server lacked knowledge of both Japanese food culture in general, and Takami’s menu in particular. Once again — a fault of too many Japanese restaurants — the dishes all arrived at once, rushing what should have been more measured enjoyment.

Sumo Sumo Edmonton is where I’d take an all-ages, all-tastes family gathering that won’t break the bank, will be satisfying but not exquisite.

To Takami I’d take friends prepared to pay a premium for an over-all Japanese artistic visual, taste and olfactory experience. And I’d tell the server, in no uncertain terms, to slow down and spread out delivery of the dishes.

Food notes

Yet another Keg opening, this time in the bustling suburb of Windermere. That’s five Keg steakhouses in Edmonton and one in Sherwood Park … Oscar Lopez is expanding his Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse group from downtown Edmonton and Calgary to a third restaurant at 9626 Ellerslie Road, opening in days … Piccolino’s rested on its laurels as a traditional Italian restaurant for too long. The once-popular west end restaurant has closed and will re-open as a new Century Hospitality Group (Lux, Hart’s, MKT, Delux, Parlour) concept come the fall. Piccolino’s affable Lino Rago will stay on as an operating partner.  

Takami Sushi

10430 61 Ave.

780-523-4695

Wednesday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 p.m. Sunday) Closed Tuesdays.

Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $40; loaded, $80

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns

Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns

Service: 3 of 5 Suns

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar & Grill Edmonton

3975 Calgary Trail

780-297-7707

Sumosumosushi.com

Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (10 p.m. Friday and Saturday)

Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $35; loaded, $70

Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns

Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns