Omakase at Sushi Zo
I have not had sushi very often in the past few years. Aside from several visits to Tama and an unpleasant experience at Shibucho’s on Beverly (the sushi was very good), I have satisfied my cravings for Japanese food mostly with sashimi and cooked dishes at Asanebo’s.
With the board’s many praises for Sushi Zo and sensing that there has been changes in the sushi scene, I trekked out to Palms to experience sushi with a contemporary chef. Omakase at Sushi Zo reintroduced me to sushis that I have come to avoid and introduced me to new eats.
Over the years, I no longer order ikura, anago, ika, or mirugai. Ikura and anago were included in Sushi Zo’s omakase, and they are different from what I’ve experienced before. Keizo’s ikura both look and taste smoky, and his anago is charred at the edges with a moderate application of tsume. I was introduced to slices of baby yellowtail which are crunchy with a hint of the familiar hamachi taste. The blue crab temaki was too bulky – I prefer a cone shape to his cylinder – but the mix was delicious. I was surprised that his blue fin tuna comes from Europe.
I like his approach of serving singleton sushis – it’s clearly more work for him. I also appreciate his meticulous preparation and happily not modify his offerings: After all, this is omakase, where you’ve placed your trust in the chef. The only unreasonable request from him is that you eat his sushi in one bite. His ankimo or uni gunkanmaki is too large to devour in one bite.
It was an excellent experience for Mrs. Judge Dee and me. Thank you hounds.
Having tried dinner omakase at Zo twice recently and even more recently the lunch omakase special at Kiriko, I am now giving the edge to Kiriko--virtually every piece was so spectacular and sauced or flavored so perfectly--whereas at Zo, I was only really impressed with one or two out of ten or so pieces. Obviously everybody has a different palate. Am going back again for lunch next week to Kiriko with friend who went with me to Zo. Curious to see if she has the same reaction. The only way I can describe it is that the sushi at Kiriko has more...flair, for want of a better word. Also--it may be of slightly higher quality (they do have otoro, versus chutoro at Zo)--but I'm not knowledgable enough to know. I do know that the friend I went with to Kiriko has been to Urasawa (which needless to say he worships, lets say), and he was extremely impressed with Kiriko--in fact made a reservation to back to dinner there the next day!
We were there Saturday night for omakase and then I snuck back for lunch yesterday and ordered for myself (which mostly ended up being whatever it was he was giving other people since it all looked so great).
Both times were stellar-- at dinner we had monkfish liver for the first time and enjoyed it, in addition to the bluefin tuna toro sashimi, seared butterfish, black snapper, pompano, sweet shrimp, salmon roe, sea urchin, spanish mackerel, salmon (the only piece I didn't absolutely love), sea eel, yellowtail, scallop and a blue crab hand roll. I may have missed a few. It came to about $75 each (incl a 20% tip) for omakase, and I spent $37 before tip for my own lunch choices which were yellowtail, toro, spanish mackerel, amberjack, butterfish, albacore, black snapper, halibut, scallop, and a special scallop handroll (not in order and I may have left a few out).
I did not have alcohol either time but my dining partner had a beer.
The place is definitely becoming a regular spot for a number of people, and if my bank account can stand it, me too. I know there are some who would take one time at Urasawa over 3 times at Zo, but for now I am very satisfied and this place is now our #1 spot for sushi over Kiriko.