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Jul 13, 2006 07:16 PM

Sushi Zo Review

After reading so many rave reviews about this place, my sister, friend and I eagerly sat down to an omakase dinner Tuesday night with Keizo-san.

At 8pm, we were the only ones there. Two cheerful servers greeted us with hot towels and laid out pretty dishware in front of us. I liked how each piece was unique. We even got to pick out our own sake glasses :)

Then the magic began. Here's a list of what we had (this is from memory, so the order is a little off)

1. A beautiful Kumamoto oyster with ponzu sauce. Absolutely fresh and delicious
2. Baby abalone. I loved the texture, which was less "chewy" and more "crispy"
3. Uni with squid "noodles". OMG, I'm in love. I've heard about this dish before and am so very glad that I finally got to try it. The textures and tastes melded perfectly
4. Ankimo (monkfish liver). I've had this once before and wasn't too fond of it. But Keizo's ankimo was delicious. It was served slightly warm and had a delicate flavor to it. Definitely the foie gras of the sea.

Then we braced ourselves for the sushi. Keizo presented each fish and would instruct us whether or not to use soy sauce, but most of them came already perfectly seasoned.

5. Maguro (tuna)
6. Kanpachi (soetimes called baby yellowtail)
7. Aji (spanish mackerel) - now this was absolutely delicious. I've had aji before and it's usually been oily and fishy. This aji had no fishiness at all.
8. Scallop with yuzu and sea salt
9. Mirugai (giant clam) with shiso leaf. I loved how the shiso added that fresh clean taste....
10. White shrimp. First time trying it and it was delicious! I like it better than sweet shrimp and i LOOOOOVE sweet shrimp
11. Shima aji (amberjack). Keizo explained that it's kind of between mackerel and whitefish. I loved this one.
12. Uni (sea urchin) - I've had better but it was decent
12. Ikura (salmon roe) - Not a big fan of this at all. It's always FISHY and salty as hell. But Keizo's ikura was mild with just a hint of briny salty goodness.
14. Seared butterfish with miso sauce - kind of like miso black cod but then again not. It was buttery sweet goodness
15. Toro hand roll - TORO, people. Simply decadent.
16. Anago (saltwater eel). Never had this before but fell in love. YUMMMMMM!!!!
17. Octopus with yuzu
18. Flying fish - this one was whatever. Wasn't bad, but nothing to wow over

And finally,

19. Yuzu drink - a chilled "shot" of sweet citrusy heaven

2 hours of eating, 2 bottles of sake for three people came out to $215 before tax. Amazing deal.

During dinner, 3 parties of 2 came in, two of them sitting at the sushi bar, one at a table. Surprisingly enough, the two parties at the sushi bar were fellow chowhounds! It was great meeting you, Sasha and CiaoBob :)

Sushi Zo is now my special local sushi bar (my sister lives right down the street) and I'm already dreaming of the next time I go again ....

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  1. I am possessed by dreams of the non-alcoholic liquid-gold well-chilled yuzu drink at the finale...

    Did Keizo tell you about it? Did he tell you where you can purchase it?

    12 Replies
      1. re: PaulF

        Thanks, but this is not it! The one you sent me I have seen in Japanese markets and is used for cooking. This was solely a drinking yuzu beverage. It was crystal clear, almost like a non-alcoholic plum wine. I have checked several Japanese markets and no one has pointed me there, yet!

        1. re: liu

          How funny... I must've just missed you guys. I was there on Tuesday AND Wednesday night as well! I asked about the yuzu drink and the lady said, "It is our secret." However, the first time I went in, Keizo said they mix it themselves... I'm guessing they dilute a yuzu mixture with simple syrup????

          1. re: banquisha

            Yuzu and simple syrup...this is pretty close! I am just wondering how he attained a crystal clear liquid. There was no citrus-y suspension. But I do think you are very close, Banquisha.

            1. re: liu

              i was told it was yuzu and honey. this would not have been impossible if the yuzu was juiced, strained, and mixed with white or raw honey.

              1. re: revets2

                Although it has been awhile, I haven't forgotten Zo's heavenly yuzu drink...did you have it?

                Who told you "yuzu and honey?" We have three fruits on our yuzu tree and one appears almost ready for harvest. I was directed to harvest before the fruit turns too yellow, and then use the zest or aromatics of the skin and not the internal part. So, when we do pick our first yuzu, I will experiment with both a simple syrup and with honey. Detective revets2, thanks for this very well-guarded info.

                1. re: liu

                  I was instructed to use sqeeze fresh yuzu over a pot of matsutake mushroom soup once so it must have some uses...

                2. re: revets2

                  I am responding to JudiAU's comment about using the actual yuzu juice and not just the rind zest or essence. (There are already too many "replies," so I could not place this exactly on the post where it belongs, just under your post.) Thanks for this input. I only have three fruits on the tree, so they are quite precious. With your suggestion, I will try ALL parts when I harvest my first one to see what has flavor. Thanks!

        2. re: liu

          I was discussing the yuzu drink with my sister and she says she could have sworn that the waitress said something about "apple juice"?

          1. re: MeowMixx

            Hmmmm?? It just did not have the apple flavor, but perhaps apple juice was the base with yuzu mixed in. MeowMixx, this is good detective work, and it offers me something to play with when my yuzu tree finally produces its first fruit! You can be sure I will be the Mad Scientist in the kitchen, trying to duplicate what we had at Sushi Zo!

            1. re: MeowMixx

              not sure about the apple juice. =) definitely yuzu though.

              liu - u might want to go to tsuruhashi in long beach and try the yuzu sorbet. so refreshing =)

              1. re: Alice

                Alice, thanks for the suggestion. I will have to file that as I don't get down quite that way too often. But it is something that I won't forget when I am in that part of town.

                I see on your "My Chow" that sushi is at the top of your list...mine, too! So, give me another, more serious reason to get to Long Beach!

          2. see, now, this is what Jonathan Gold, when he does his review in the Weekly, which will bring in absurd amounts of deserved clientele, could hang the whole thing on. the legendary Yuzu drink that drives sane sushi-eaters mad! mad, I tell you! ha hahahhahhh....

            1 Reply
            1. re: annagranfors

              you're absolutely right j gold will hinge the review, on teh yuzu drink, esp, the first paragraph or so, and then start to discuss the sushi.

              i guess this is what set's zo apart from nozawa, the juice drink.

            2. Great report MeowMixx. And nice to meet you as well. Very detailed and I didn't notice you writing at the bar so you have one sharp memory -- even with two bottles of sake. Here is my (more limited or, perhaps, beer-beffudled) post on the night


              Sounds like he used up the best of the aji on you guys, but everything else was superb.

              1. Meowmixx, great review of Sushi Zo. My gf and i just went there tonight after reading a review a friend had written on We ordered the omakase and he asked if there were certain things we did not eat. Like many of the other posts written on Sushi Zo, we were one of very few people eating at the restaurant. Almost all of which were sitting at the sushi bar. I'll cut to the point, fish was super fresh, rice was the best i've ever had, and it was a good deal for omakase. As for the chef, I have no doubt that he has skills - you can see that in the Yuzu drink and soy sauce that he prepares himself. However, I don't think he is as amiable as most people say he is. I noticed the patrons next to us had skipped out on one of his dishes. He quickly went over and tried to give her the guilt trip for not eating it and seemed a bit pushy. Seemed like his feelings were hurt. I make it a point to talk to sushi chefs at the bar and let him know what you like/dislike and most importantly, let him know that you enjoy his food. Chef Keizo didn't seem like he wanted to talk much. That's fine. But yes, I would go back there for the food, but probably not say a word to him.

                1 Reply
                1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                  I'm glad you had a great dining experience at Zo. But I'm sorry to hear your "eh" experience with Keizo. He's been nothing but nice, charming and funny to me.

                  btw, i love your blog. I've been a fan for quite sometime :)

                2. Sushi Zo is probably the best sushi I have ever eaten! I have been really fortunate and have had the opportunity to eat at some of the finest sushi bars throughout Japan, and Sushi Zo stands out as the best. Fresh fish, perfectly balanced, perfectly prepared...what more can you ask. I love his attitude of focusing in on one thing...fresh sushi. Chef Keizo has a vision of what he thinks sushi should be and he has brought his vision to life. He once told me that he wants his sushi to do the talking, not himself. So listen to what his sushi is saying to you and not Chef Keizo. Apparently he got his word across to eatdrinknbmerry without saying a thing.... THE FINEST SUSHI!