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am i ruined for sushi?

the last three times i've had sushi, it was at sushi zo. i <3 sushi zo.

tonight, i went to sakura restaurant (on centinela) with some friends. this board gave it rave reviews so i was pretty excited. i ordered the 6 sushi + 6 sashimi plate and was HORRIFIED at the quality. it was actually borderline disgusting tasting- i was tempted to salt it. the place was packed and my sushi loving friends loved their sushi, where i found myself stealing my husband's udon.

did sushi zo make me so snobby to the point that i can't even stomach above average sushi? or is sakura restaurant really that bad?

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  1. yup.
    you've been spoiled.
    happened to me, too.
    now the 'lowest' i can tolorate is hide.
    the bar has been raised.

    1. Yes... I can stomach Sakura, if I need a sushi fix on the cheaper side... but if I had my way... Zo Zo Zo Zo...

      1. yes, you have been spoiled, that's a good thing. But luckily you can go to Kiriko too.

        1. Yes, you have been spoiled. My gf and I are limiting ourselves to 2-3 visits to Zo a year so that we don't get sick of it. I went there twice and see other sushi places differently. Even though Sushi Gen/Komasa in Lil' Tokyo are not as good as Zo, I still consider them to be the go-to places b/c Zo will simply clean out your wallet. Also remember that everyone on this board has his own favorite sushi joint. Some ppl like the glitzy hollywoodish sushi joints, some like the places that do crazy rolls. For me, I like sushi in its simplest form: fresh with rice. At work, I have heard from 4 people that sakura is a good place... but every single one mentioned that it was a 'good value'. When it comes to sushi, I don't mind paying more.

          1. To me the bang for the buck is better at Hiko and Sasabune, and about the same at Kiriko as at Zo.

            1. we had the same experience when we went to Kiriko...and it was not less expensive. raves on this board, we had the omakase and not one thing blew us away. very sad to be so spoiled.....

              1 Reply
              1. re: Amanda Enclade

                I agree amanda. Kiriko is expensive and till decent. but if i'm going to spend that money - going to zo. i do LOVE kiriko's smoked salmon sushi though. mmm...

              2. the funny thing is nozawa at it's best, beats zo hands down (the plus side on zo, is that the chef is much more talkative and affable in some ways than nozawa, there's actually japanese beer on tap, and you get to try more variety than nozawa since at zo he serves by the piece rather than by the pair). also, sasabune when i tried it last week at the new wilshire location was pretty darn good.

                1. "Even though Sushi Gen/Komasa in Lil' Tokyo are not as good as Zo, I still consider them to be the go-to places b/c Zo will simply clean out your wallet."

                  You think Sushi Zo is more expensive than Sushi Gen? I guess it is if you're comparing Gen's lunch specials to Zo (which doesn't have one), but for straight-up sushi I find Sushi Gen to be far more expensive than (and not even as good as) Sushi Zo. At Sushi Zo I find myself paying less for dinners that are far more satisfying. The most comparable "post omakase high" to Sushi Zo is Sasabune, which is much more expensive than Zo so I see not reason to go there anymore either. So yes, I'm ruined too... happily so.

                  You can get a "smaller" omakase at Sushi Zo that is more affordable. When I requested it, I got:

                  -kumamato oyster
                  -a plate of five pieces of steamed monkfish
                  -hamachi belly
                  -seared toro
                  -yellow-striped jack
                  -black snapper
                  -red snapper
                  -sweet shrimp
                  -blue crab handroll
                  -orange dessert drink

                  All of that was $45.50 (before tax and tip), and it was MORE than enough! You could ask for even a smaller price range and I'd bet he'd accommodate you.

                  Sigh... I might have to go there tonight!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chowmominLA

                    Chowmom... everytime i've been to sushi zo... i do the full omakase (and still order more fish). my total ends up being close to $80 (excluding alcohol) and i'm still NOT full. the portions at gen are HUGE and i recall a time my sister and i went... we ate till we couldn't move and the total was $100 for both of us. I have not done omakase at sushi gen though... we ordered ourselves. how is the omakase there??? dying to try it. so yes, i think sushi zo is pricier b/c it's charged per piece.

                    seriously, my stomach just growled talking about sushi.

                    1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                      Well, the "small" omakase at Sushi Zo was 15 pieces of nigiri, five pieces of monkfish and the blue crab handroll, and it was $45 (without alcohol, and pre tax and tip.). It was completely enough sushi for me. I've never had the omakase at Sushi Gen so I can't compare it to that, but the first time I went to Zo I ordered a la carte and my final bill was twenty-something dollars, and when I order a la carte at Sushi Gen the bill is forty-something dollars. Same amount of sushi; same things, in fact.

                      Maybe the difference is that at Sushi Gen you could have other things to help fill you up... straight sushi places such as Sushi Zo and Sasabune can get expensive if you have a big appetite.

                  2. I definitely have to get my Sushi Zo fix this weekend.......

                    1. I guess I got sushi-spoiled in Hokkaido a few winters back. The freshness and (price) of the winter specialties cannot be duplicated here in L.A., on my budget anyway.
                      I will enjoy a roll or a few pieces of sushi as an appetizer, but gone are the days of sitting at a bar and making a meal of sushi.

                      1. sushi zo is a lot pricier than that. maybe he cut you a deal, but 15 pieces plus five pieces of monkfish, plus a blue crab handroll, sounds at the very least to b e 65 or 70 w/0 tax or tip.

                        everytime i've gone even when i ate a lot less than your "small" omakase, it was at least 40 per.

                        and 15 pieces plus all the extras sounds like a considerable amount of sushi, not exactly small in my opinion. i'm curiously how big the large omakase is, 30 or so pieces? plus a few rolls?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kevin

                          I don't know, maybe he did cut me a deal, we remembered each other from our Hide heyday and he even remembered that I have a toddler. I only had the omakase once (the other two times I did a la carte because I wasn't that hungry) so I don't have any point of reference to know how ordinary or extraordinary that particular omakase was. It sounds like I did get lucky, esp. with the shirako, which I understand is somewhat of a rare delicacy. But I wrote down every piece and the exact pre-tax/pre-tip total ($45.50) so I know it wasn't a mistake on my end.

                        2. My other Zo-friends and I agree -- expectations have changed once we've discovered Sushi Zo! Went there last night and it was delicious as usual. The past two times I've been there, he's had a helper/apprentice behind the bar with him. Even though I enjoyed my meal, I noticed that a few pieces were cut a bit skinnier than usual (a friend who ate their earlier the same evening also said the same). I didn't pay attention to who actually made the sushi -- Keizo or the new person. Regardless, still really tasty. They also have been more assertive in determining whether you are having omakase and seating you at a table if you are not ... which makes sense, but in the past the staff didn't seem to care as much.

                          1. Yes. Absolutely. I went to Tama a week after my first Zo experience. Tama was what turned me on to sushi, I have a spot in my heart for Tama. Alas, I found the Spanish Mackerel there almost inedible after the immaculate mackerel at Zo. . There were a *few* items that were equatable to Zo...maybe. Everything else there was absolutely no comparison.

                            I would go so far as to say the sushi I had at Zo was at times equal to Urasawa. Certain items like the salmon roe were probably 98% as good as it is at Urasawa.

                            1. had dinner at sushi zo friday night, it was only my 2nd time. my 1st experience was a couple months ago and very average. the place was still new and keizo was working out the logistics. if i recall, that night the bar was not even half full, with a few tables occupied, yet keizo was nonstop busy. now he's got an assistant by his side, the entire restaurant was full, yet he seems more at ease. i noticed a waitress (his wife?) helping out with topping off/finishing some of the sushi as well. anyway, onto the latest omakase. everything was great! all of the positive posts i kept reading here urged me to return to try again. quality of fish was top notch, warm rice was just right. no need to run down the list of individual items, but the variety was superb. my only complaint is the small size/cut of fish for the nigiri. i read in previous posts that others have had similar experience. service was prompt, clearing dishes and refilling tea, but the timing of each course was quite random. sometimes it would be as little as 1min between dishes, some as long as 5. not too big a deal, as the place was still full well past 9. total for 2 came out to $150. i'm usually stuffed at the end of an omakase but this time i was not. actually i had 3 more items past the crab roll, but maybe i should've finished with another roll (negi-toro?).
                              almost forgot to mention this tidbit. on my 1st visit, the sweet shrimp heads were grilled in the back and served. that was 1 of the highlights of my meal! sadly, keizo no longer does it anymore due to lack of time and attention required for that. fortunately, the shot of yuzu-ade is still offered.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: zack

                                Alas, no more shrimp heads. They were awesome grilled.

                              2. Which sushi chef who used to be at Hide is now at Sushi Zo? I knew them all and wish I could catch up with any of them. What I'd give for some engawa right now in ponzu and minced scallions etc...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sing me a bar

                                  Keizo-san, eponymous owner and master chef of Sushi Zo

                                2. eatdrink and kevin, I stand corrected, as I also got my wallet cleaned on Saturday :0(


                                  Still a fan though.