After months of hearing and talking about it, this actually happened.
The Sumo Mary, a massive bloody mary that requires bold feats of brunch wrestling strength. We first heard of it from fellow brunch enthusiast Gourmet Rambler. We listed it as Chicago’s most ridiculous bloody mary on Thrillist. We got acquainted with it on Windy City Live! It was time to get to Sunda and experience its magnitude for ourselves.
We’re gonna be completely honest for a second. Bloodies with crazy garnishes get lots of attention, but we don’t buy the hype. The gimmick often overshadows the flavor of actual cocktail.
This isn’t the case with the Sumo Mary. We were blown away by the taste. Hyperbole warning: it’s one of the best we’ve had this year. It’s 32 ounces of refreshment with generous cilantro and cucumber flavors. Plus, according to executive chef Jess Deguzman, it also includes a Vietnamese dipping sauce Nước chấm, a garlic vinaigrette and Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, giving this bloody mary its unique, distinctly Asian flavor.
Now for the reason we’re all here: the garnish. Chef Jess created this bloody masterpiece using ingredients he already had in the kitchen. Are you ready for this? It consists of a baked Alaska crab roll, Chinese duck bao bun, a piece of thick braised pork belly and grilled cheese with tochino (Filipino sausage). Then comes all the side items: oshinko (Japanese pickled radish), roasted potatoes, shishito peppers, loompya (Filipino egg roll), Chinese broccoli and four piece of bacon.
This bloody mary isn’t for the faint of heart, and neither is its price tag at $40. But when you think about it, it’s a good value when you consider you’re getting essentially two bloody marys and a meal. If this is too much bloody mary, you can also get a standard size and create your own garnish selection via their bloody mary cart.
To be honest, we were pretty stuffed after wrestling this bloody. That didn’t stop us from seeing what the rest of Sunda’s brunch menu had to offer.
Brunch is where “east meets west,” with offerings that range from Asian-inspired brunch dishes to sushi to dim sum. We tried the braised pork belly on rice patty, which is an Asian spin on an egg benedict. The pork was incredibly tender, smoky and savory, and the crispy rice was a surprisingly amazing alternative to traditional English muffin.
Sunda makes for the perfect spot for the group that likes to order and try a bit of everything. The classic crispy rice with spicy tuna and seared wagyu tartare were standouts that both came with a spicy jalapeno kick that’s enhanced with the crunch of the rice.
Come for the bloody, stay for the Sunda’s brunch. Don’t let the over-the-top garnish fool you, the Sumo Mary is the real deal. It’s a bloody mary we could drink again and again. And hope to.
Sumo Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)