I still recall how my first visit to Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant turned into an educational trip. When I heard that there is an affordable source of delicious Japanese food in the then newly introduced ‘green city’ (yes, at the desert!), I thought the almost 30 minutes drive from the city center of Abu Dhabi will be worth it. Apparently, the restaurant is inside Masdar Institute (which is technically within the vicinity of Masdar City and few kilometers away from Abu Dhabi International Airport). When we reached the car park, the unplanned educational trip began.
In order to get inside Masdar Institute, we had to park the car and go in one of the driverless cars or Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system stationed at the pods.
It is a great idea to integrate the small 3s (in Arabic numeric) inside the big 3 (English numeric).
From the car park station, we had to select the car which the entry arrow is in green which means it is ready to go; otherwise it is not colored red or amber it is on a ‘charging mode’. Upon pressing the entry arrow, the door opened and we were greeted (voice recorded) by the operator. We had to touch the screen and the car journeyed within 25 kph to 40kph depending on the road curves. How was it being in the car? It felt very comfortable with the leather seats, air-conditioning, and felt sense of security with the sight of fire extinguisher and first aid kid neatly stored within the seats near the foot rest. It was maybe odd, but it also felt a bit ‘back to the near future’ particularly when the screen started talking something like “… it runs on lithium batteries which are powered by solar energy produced at Masdar City and is environmentally friendly. The car is designed by the same design house who did Ferrari’s, Bentley and Ashton Martin.”
Masdar Institute claims that there are magnets embedded in the concrete floor every four meters to help the cars navigate. On the other hand, in order to have a wireless link between the PRT and the computer/machine where it is being operated, an antenna is at the overhead. I assume that it is collision-proof and that they have a disaster recovery plan which had been tested very well.
As we reached the Masdar Institute Station, we were welcomed by a lobby which offers information about the important milestones of Masdar Institute, including its local and international projects. Recently, they have added a model scale of the examples of its projects.
One thing which is noticeable is how the stairs are centrally situated while the lifts/elevators are deliberately hidden. Apparently, this is to encourage walking and reduce the use of energy. Take note that the entire establishment utilizes solar energy.
As we exit the stairs, the central courtyard welcomed us and the center piece instantly grabbed our attention; something which may seem to be alien to some — it is a wind tower!
In the UAE, it is quite common to find traditional Arabic wind towers in some residential areas, old malls and other establishments. These towers are very helpful particularly during summer; the wind towers assist in bringing cold breeze to the ground. What Masdar Institute built though was a modern re-interpretation of the traditional wind towers in the UAE. Infront of Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant is the wind tower which is quite tall. The taller it is, the more it can capture the cold upper winds and direct them to the open air courtyard. The sensors at the top of the steel structure allow it to open in the direction of prevailing winds and close the other sides to divert wind downwards. The more prominent contemporary elements are the addition of mist generators at the top to add cooling to the air and its utilization as a tool to test air quality and measure weather.
There are apartments inside for the students which have atriums that are naturally ventilated. An advance feat is the availability of metering information for each unit which tells the Building Facilities Manager and occupants their demand for energy, water and cooling. To minimize energy consumption, the unit shifts into ‘sleep mode’. I remember the lighting system in our office where it automatically shuts off when it detects non-activity for a certain period of time. For example, even if you are in your office station and is sitting or standing so still, it would be read by the sensor as non-activity. There is a risk/opportunity that those who are sleeping on the job will be easily identified. Haha.
The signage says “Aqra” (Arabic term for “read”). Reading initiatives are in full swing in the UAE this year.
You can never go wrong with any of the bentos, sushi, poke bowls, etc. Tempura bento seems to be my favorite. The best thing is Sumo Sushi & Bento offers value for money. It only gets better such that they have now partnered with Entertainer Abu Dhabi. That means you will get one free bento or main course for each one that you will pay for.
During the several visits that I had whether as a returning consumer or when showing around guests, I tend to look forward more to the solar powered car ride more than the sumptuous Japanese meal although both are worthwhile experience. I am pleased to have an occasional access to a carbon free ride.
Visiting Masdar Institute is recommended to those who are having a stop over in Abu Dhabi (few kilometers away from Abu Dhabi International Airport), love new experience particularly to try the PRT system, fancy value for money (aside from Sumo Sushi and Bento, there is Caribou Cafe and other restaurants inside), keen on learning more about sustainability and Arabic architecture, and more. Basically, it is a must-visit and worth the revisit every now and then.
Sumo Sushi & Bento is at Masdar Institute of Science & Technology
Podium Level, Retail #2
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Landline: 800 – SUMO (7866)
How to reach Masdar Institute of Science and Technology?
From Abu Dhabi:
1. Drive along Khaleej Al Arabi Road (towards Dubai) until you reach the main highway, which takes you on to Mussaffah Bridge.
2. Once you cross Mussafah Bridge, drive straight in the direction of Abu Dhabi International Airport until you pass Officers City and Khalifa City.
3. Follow signs towards Presidential Flight and Masdar City.
4. Take the right exit, which will lead to a small crossover where you will see signage for Masdar City and Presidential Flight pointing to the right. When you turn right, go straight and towards a small roundabout. Take a left at the roundabout, until you reach another roundabout (Presidential Flight).
5. At this roundabout take a U-turn and take the first right towards Masdar City.
1. Take E11 road towards Abu Dhabi.
2. Stay on the main highway, which becomes the E10, continuing towards Abu Dhabi.
3. Take the exit to the location signposted Al Raha Beach and Khalifa City. At the bottom of the slip road pass under the freeway taking the third exit to another roundabout.
4. Take the third exit toward the airport and Presidential Flight.
5. Continue on to the next roundabout which is directly in front of the Presidential Flight entrance.
6. At the roundabout go straight and take the first right, with a sign to Masdar City.
Via public transportation:
1. Taxis – best option if you are coming from Abu Dhabi International Airport. It might be a little costly unless you are coming as a group from Abu Dhabi city center or from Dubai.
2. Bus – more economical, however, consider the bus timing.