This past Saturday, I made my way to Fremont with the promise of Chiso sushi, sake and large men smashing into each other for sport. When I arrived at the dimly lit Fremont Studios for LivingSocial’s Sumo + Sushi event, two of those promises came true. The Liquor Control Board had nixed alcohol so the only drinks available for purchase were tea, soda and unusual Japanese beverages such as this grape-soda jelly that came in a squeezable pouch. It wasn’t bad, though.
Once seated, I was handed lightly salted edamame and watched as the sold-out event filled up with about 200 people. The sumo wrestlers, Byamba and Kelly, were introduced and Andrew the emcee explained the rules, at which point Byamba demonstrated some moves and threw the 430-pound Kelly around like shrimp tempura. Then, Kelly did the middle splits and the emcee stood on his back. Both wrestlers were wearing the traditional mawashi, aka the belt that exposes a lot more than I had ever imagined.
During a break we received a Bento box filled with Chiso goodies, including nigiri and Seattle rolls with salmon, avocado, cucumber and tobiko. As the crowd munched and chatted, Byamba (who weighs 370 pounds and at his prime had only 11 percent body fat) and Kelly (the heaviest man to ever run a marathon) returned to the ring and performed about seven matches. Although each match only lasted about 20 seconds, the crowd would go crazy shouting for their favorite wrestler. Between the matches, Andrew took questions, and you would think the Liquor Control Board hadn’t shut down alcohol service considering what these people asked the wrestlers. Among the evening’s “best” inquires:
“Are you two single?”
“How many pro sumo wrestlers are white?”
“Do you get embarrassed when your ‘junk’ falls out?”
It was an entertaining evening with an enthusiastic crowd and an attentive staff. The $55 general ticket was a fair price for dinner and a show. The lack of sake, however, was disappointing.