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anything we can do for Sushi Zo?

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Dear Friends,

I know others have posted on this topic before, but I wanted to add in my 2 cents. I was at Sushi Zo on National yesterday. Fantastic meal, and Keizo was as warm, helpful, and friendly as always. BUT my friend and I were the sole patrons from 7-9pm. I can't believe business isn't picking up. Was this an off night? If not, is there anything we can do? Write to the LA Weekly? I'd hate to see this place close.

Thanks,
Elizabeth

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  1. I know. This is not a good situation. My husband and I were there on Friday, July 7 at 7:30 and there was only one other couple in the restaurant the whole time we were there. I live in this neighborhood and really want to see this place do well. The food is great.

    1. About a month ago on a Saturday night, we, too, had a delicious "omakase" dinner there at the sushi bar. For the couple of hours that we were there we saw only about 6 other guests.

      Keizo has extremely high standards, and WE are the beneficiaries of his expertise and diligence. We are rooting for him as well!

      Contacting the LA Weekly is surely one idea, and letting other Hounds know how good he is might also be helpful.

      1. Sounds like this might be a perfect location for someone to take over all or part of for a private party.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JBC

          Please invite me!

          Actually, I don't think of "party" when I think about Sushi Zo. It is very serious sushi, without the 'tude and 'tensity. The chef-owner holds extremely high standards for himself, yet he is quite relaxed and makes it all look very easy. We felt very comfortable and welcome, and conversed freely with Keizo while he was serving us. Additionally, the service was perfectly attentive.

          This is a place for someone who really appreciates everything that goes into fine sushi, and even in silence there is a lot of interaction that occurs between the sushi chef and the patron. Somehow, I think that the "volume" of a party would overpower and dilute the zen-ish experience of the sushi.

          To those who have been here...if you "get" me, help me say this better, please!

        2. Ok, I just wrote an email to the LA Weekly (the only contact I could find was the "feedback" button on the web site). Would other folks do the same? Perhaps if we swamp them with messages they'll write a review.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nibbler

            Nibbler -- I just did the same: I sent the LA Weekly a message on their "Feedback" button at the end of their site.

            Thanks for leading on this!

          2. I really like the quality at Sushi Zo. But it's somewhat expensive; not exactly something that I can afford to enjoy every week. First time I had omakase there I left with a $75 bill (without drinks) and I was still hungry. I'd gladly eat there more often if it weren't so hard on my wallet.

            5 Replies
            1. re: WBGuy

              quick ?. for the $75 bill do you recall how many pieces you received?

              1. re: wilafur

                I don't recall what I had. I think the prices he wrote down were for each piece of nigiri, not for a pair. It quickly adds up when you're hungry.

                Not really a fair comparison, but I'm used to paying $70 for omakase for two people at Shibucho Costa Mesa, and leaving the place feeling stuffed.

                I would still go to Zo rather than other Westside sushi places. However if I could spare the time and the fuel it's still a better experience and a better bargain to drive to Costa Mesa.

              2. re: WBGuy

                The two of us paid $100 for omakase, and split a large sake. We left feeling full (but not ill).

                1. re: nibbler

                  Likewise, our bill totaled about $100 (before gratuity) for two for an "omakase" dinner, one draft beer and one hot tea. We were quite satisfied when we left.

                2. re: WBGuy

                  I had a similar experience. Before my visit, I had never experienced omakase. The postings on Chowhound led me to try omakase since a couple of posters estimated omakase was about $50 per person. I admit it was very naïve of me, but I didn't really know what to expect and I thought omakase might be prix fixe. My total bill (including one beer, tax and tip) was over $90. I was pretty surprised at the cost, especially since I was not "stuffed". I probably had no more than a dozen pieces.

                3. Where is this? I looked for it and ended up at Niko. :(

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tissue

                    SushiZo
                    9824 National Boulevard
                    Los Angeles, CA 90034
                    (310) 842-3977

                    1. re: tissue

                      Sushi Zo
                      9824 National Boulevard
                      #310.842-3977

                      The restaurant faces the street, in a small chain of connecting stores.

                    2. Keizo was very codial with myself and my fiance when we had Omakase last Friday. We went at around 630 and had the place to ourselves.

                      I told him what I like and do not like, I am not not super savy with sushi, and he served some very good stuff. All teh usual, 3 kinds of mackeral and even a live shrimp sushi with the fried head at the end.

                      He mentioned he has a 3 month old daughter and having his own place was his dream. He also goes to the fish mart every morning himself. He has high standards but is the other ened of the spectrum from a Nozawa as an example.

                      Please try it out. I hope we all regret the marketing in a few months when he is packed.

                      1. hahah, it's funny how most of us have experienced going to Sushi Zo and being practically the only ones there. My roommate and I were in the same position a couple weeks ago. Excellent sushi (though I can only eat cooked things =/ ) Keizo reminds me of Ken Watanabe. Quite handsome with very good eye contact. He deserves a successful business.

                        1. In perusing the Japanese based mags and papers [Bridge USA, Lighthouse, Sushi & Sake, etc. ] distributed at Marukai, Mitsuwa and the like I have never seen any mention of ZO. Also, none of the folks that I know [AND EAT WITH] in the JP expat community here have ever heard of this place. I find that pretty odd considering the reported quality, high standards, and proximity to Westside JP hubs like Sawtelle, Mar Vista, Venice, etc... Perhaps some attention should be paid to speading word via the local JP media as well.

                          Where did Keizo come from BTW? Has he worked anywhere familiar in the past?

                          1. I think he said he was from Osaka. He has good english but a strong accent so I could have misheard. He used to work at Hide on Sawtelle.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: SCmike

                              You are correct -- he's from Osaka. But he's been here for quite a few years. He worked at Hide Sushi for a number of years. That's one of my favorite spots and I remember seeing him there, so I'm hoping that other Hide loyalists will give Zo a try. It's a great restaurant, but the location is off the beaten track, which cannot be helping him. Word of mouth seems to be the best thing we can do to help him.

                              1. re: SCmike

                                He was at Hide for quite a few years and said that he stayed out of loyalty to his boss there.

                                His sushi is superb! He deserves to be packed.

                              2. It is really not that out of the way, just off the 10 on national. Plus unlike 95% of sushi places the parking is easy as there is a huge grocery store lot available.

                                1. My husband and I had omakase there last week and everything was wonderful. We loved everything except the uni wasn't as good, but it definitely has climbed to the top of my favorite sushi places. The yuzu juice at the end was a special treat. =)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Alice

                                    Alice, I am so glad to find someone else who experienced this liquid gold at the end of the meal. The yuzu juice was heavenly delicious. Did Keizo share with you where to find it for purchase?

                                    1. re: liu

                                      aww, no he didn't. i'll try to ask next time =)

                                  2. Don't know if I should start another post or reply to this one but...
                                    After reading this thread I decided to head over for dinner. It was very quiet around 6pm and there were only two other people there.
                                    My dinner was PHENOMENAL. Everything was AMAZING. I had omakase as well. There were so many great hits, and I would have to respectfully disagree with another poster about the uni. The uni I had was awesome. He had mixed it with some sliced squid so it almost looked like a pasta dish.
                                    I think the main reason why this place is so quiet is because 1) no one knows its there and 2) even if you know its there, its hard to find. I didn't think I'd have such a hard time finding it! I was looking INSIDE the strip mall but, didn't realize to look along the side... which is where it is.
                                    PLEASE help spread the word... this place is too good to go.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: banquisha

                                      Banquisha -- did you have a chilled yuzu drink (non-alcoholic) at the end of your "omakase" dinner?

                                      1. re: liu

                                        YES!! Oh boy was that good... that stuff is addicting! Where can I get some of that to CHUG?

                                    2. You know what,

                                      Sushi Zo is good, but it's not excellent, this is my estimation of the food itself. the chef here is one of the nicest around and has integrity to serve one piece of nigiri-zushi at a time.

                                      But the problem here involves his prices, which are still way up there with the big boys, every time I've gone there I didn't eat too much at all and yet the prices are nowhere near a bargain. It is quite expensive. Which will send away most newbie non-Chowhounders for sure. Especially in it's location there in Cheviot Hills.

                                      And it is not really much better than the sushi places around town that it's the same style as (places including the infamous Sushi Nozawa, Sasabune, Echigo, Hikko, Wasabe, etc).

                                      The sushi here does not really stand above the crowd. I found some of it boring and some of it good. But he's really not offering a deal or at leat some sort of price reduction for the time being. I don't think he should offer California rolls, newfangled Spider dynamites, or set lunch lunches with miso soup and tempura and whatnot. But easing up on the prices while building a solid customer base will help him to serve in that location and to be able to continue there for years upon years.

                                      One of the first chowhound notices had described what a bargain the joint is, but I believe that to be far from the truth. Yes, the sushi is good (the best? or very good? not by a long shot), is the sushi chef one of the nicest, most jovial, garrulous chefs around town? most definitely.

                                      But on the merits of the sushi alone and the pricing, no wonder why it's difficult to survive.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: kevin

                                        I certainly did not like the place so much because of the chef. We barely talked. I think that most of the sushi chefs I've run into are just as nice. However, I really do believe that his sushi is definitly superior. I must agree with rameniac that you can taste the passion and love for the art of sushi in his pieces. When I went yesterday, I was STUFFED with very expensive pieces of sushi (I was told by many sushi chefs that I have expensive taste!) for only $62 and some cents. For me, that's a huge bargain. My tabs usually end up to be around $80 or more when I've dined elsewhere, and I have not been blown away at all by many many highly recommended sushi places until now. The last time I was blown away by anyone's sushi was at Sushi Mori however, his prices are just unaffordable for me. Unaffordable to the point where it would be a once a year thing... Sushi Zo can compete with Sushi Mori on every level AND it's much more affordable.
                                        I like how the place is so itty bitty because it doesn't turn into a place where the chef's control and evident passion for the food gets lost.
                                        Did someone out there send J.Gold this thread yet???

                                        1. re: banquisha

                                          I did! I sent him a request to review Sushi Zo...what a tough assignment! Oooh, oooh, I'll do it! Let me do it, pleeeeze!!!

                                          Have you ever requested "something" of him? Is he responsive?

                                          1. re: liu

                                            BTW, Banquisha, we LOVE Nanbankan! (I noticed on your "My Chow" that you, too, are a fan!

                                            1. re: liu

                                              hehe i was the zealot who told him to go try hakata ramen after he first reviewed daikokuya. maybe a year later, he did!

                                        2. i think 'zo is at a decent price point. maybe a few dollars above average but you get what you pay for. i can definitely taste the difference. keizo flies his fish in from japan 4 nights a week; not that it's any comparison, but urasawa only flies stuff in twice a week from my understanding. keizo's operating on passion right now, but unless business picks up, he'll have to start cutting corners to survive, and that would be a shame.

                                          1. The most delicious sushi I've ever had, but again, my friend and I were the only customers at lunch today. The omakase included huge salmon roe that Keizo scooped from brine into nori that was unlike any I've ever had. The place is close to Sony Studios, not far from Fox, and just 1 mile from the heart of Culver City where Tender Greens, Ford's, et al. are. Go to Zo!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: gnarlex

                                              after hyping it up for my friend, he went there for lunch yesterday and absolutely loved it. keep at it everyone!

                                              1. re: rameniac

                                                I think you're talking about me. Yeah, but a caveat is, I don't know sushi. When Keizo asked me what I liked, and I joked, "California Rolls," he said "Get out." :)

                                                I really like the butterfish, yellow tail, scallop, halibut, spanish mackerel.

                                                Definitely expensive, but really tasty.

                                              2. re: gnarlex

                                                went last friday and my friend and i were the only customers as well. while i think it's very tasty, it is quite a tad bit expensive for lunch. the amberjack really stood out this time. and as always the yuzu juice =)

                                              3. At the very least, we should plan a night when all of us on this thread show up at ZO at the same time, to encourage Keizo and show our support. What do you think?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: braichu

                                                  I think you ought to go over to the SCARF list on Yahoo and propose exactly such a mob scene.

                                                  I've not been there myself, but it sounds very much like a place worth supporting.

                                                  1. re: braichu

                                                    I love Sushi Zo and Keizo, however, I just don't think he is prepared for a large crowd; he would be overwhelmed. His deliberate and exacting style serves him well so long as he can attend to just a few customers at a time. Unless he is training someone, I wonder if he will be able to grow, entertain or engage a full restaurant without sacrificing quality.

                                                    1. re: liu

                                                      so we'll have to stagger, groups of 10 every hour or so. :)

                                                      1. re: braichu

                                                        Chill the yuzu drink!

                                                  2. can you get that yuzu lemonade juice or syrup without haveing to go the omakase path?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      I don't know, Kevin. However, when I first began raving about this yuzu drink, there were some hounds that had had dinner at Sushi Zo but did not get served the drink. I don't think it would be rude to first compliment Keizo on his delicious find --so you have heard, and ask if you can try it at the end of your dinner -- no matter what you are ordering. Just an idea...

                                                    2. My wife and I went two weeks ago and had an amazing meal. Among the standouts: the best butterfish, kumamoto oysters, and shrimp I have ever tasted.

                                                      There were about 10 over people there in the course of the two hour evening.

                                                      Anything you can do for SushiZo? Go there. It's worth it.

                                                      1. it's worth it for the area, but at the same time it is still quite expensive, good sushi is not meant to be cheap, but somehow it seems nozawa and others are still getting better fresh fish. maybe i'll have to try again to make a definitive decision.

                                                        1. Went in a group of 5 to eat dinner there last night. I have to say our meal was amazing! Omakase: oyster, ankimo sashimi, tuna sashimi, kanpachi, red snapper, ono, shima aji, butterfish, yellowtail, sea eel, toro, tamago, abalone sashimi, amaebi, uni, ikura, toro handroll. The highlights were the ankimo, butterfish, sea eel, uni, abalone sashimi, and ikura. His ikura was outstanding, very mild and sweet. And honestly I think that's the best ankimo in town (never been to Urusawa). My friend who didn't do the omakse, ate 4 pieces of ankimo sushi. Everything was really luscious. However I was slightly disappointed by the quality of the toro. I've had better toro elsewhere, last night we were served chutoro as opposed to otoro. But that was the only downside. You can tell he really cares about the food he serves. He has good technique. I like it that except for the uni, all the dishes that stood out in my mind had a preparational aspect to it. The place was completely full and I felt like he was really overwhelmed by too many customers. He's really needs to train someone else, as there was barely any interaction between us (we sat at the sushi bar) and the chef until later in the evening when things eased up for him. With two sakes - with tax and tip $105 per person. Expensive yes... but I'm glad this place exists.