Sushi Zo - Deserves the Hype
After reading all of the glowing reviews of Sushi Zo, my wife and I had to try Zo and see if it lives up to the hype so we checked it out last night.
Simply put, it does.
We didn't choose the omakase at the bar, but instead were shown to one of the tables. On a side note, our table was my only complaint; right under an A/C duct so it was a little chilly.
To give you a frame of reference, we LOVE nigiri sushi and sashimi and are not fans of overstuffed fusion rolls filled with philly cheese steak ingredients. For us, just keep it simple, keep it fresh and let it melt in your mouth.
Our "go-to" sushi bars are Tama on sushi row in Studio City and on the westside (closer to home), Echigo. We do like the quality of fish and skilled preparation offered at Kiriko, but the service was so bad on our last two visits that we won't go back.
Anyway, on to our order at Zo.
For nigiri we ordered, hamachi, kanpachi, shima aji, sweet shrimp, scallop, butter fish, salmon and anago. For dessert, a blue crab hand roll. To drink, green tea and King Estate pinot gris.
Every piece of fish, and I mean every piece, was luscious, fresh and like butta. The service was great and the fish came out at a perfectly timed pace. The rice was slightly warm, seasoned and a perfect compliment to the fresh fish.
The standout dish was the the butter fish topped with a miso sauce; I could have eaten 10 of these.
The restaurant was a 1/2 full when we arrived and about the same or more by the time we left.
I really hope this joint stays under the radar; I don't want to share with many people.
Went for lunch this afternoon. Ordered one piece each of albacore, butterfish, fresh water eel, halibut, salmon, seared toro, toro and yellowtail, plus the blue crab roll and a Diet Coke. Pieces are indeed smaller than almost anywhere else I frequent. I like the fact you can order one piece of a fish, but for over $32 before tip this struck me as yet another instance of an overpriced meal at Sushi Zo. The fish is just not that amazing to justify the price; I much prefer the quality at Hiko and Sasabune. Again, it's not bad, I wouldn't urge a friend to avoid it, it's just not where it should be in terms of food -- nor are there any other compensating qualities -- for its price point.
I had been disappointed after my last Sushi Zo omakase ended up in the three figures, but I went again tonight and am back in love. This time I ordered my favorites a la carte:
-premium Spanish mackerel
-special scallop roll
I was going to order the sweet shrimp but found the MP was $6, even more than the toro. Also, they didn't have bluefin tonight, just bigeye (not as good, in my opinion.)
The sushi was great as usual. I had said earlier today that I prefer Sasabune's butterfish over Sushi Zo's, but I changed my mind tonight. Also, I used to despise mackerel, but now it's one of my favorites. It was so flavorful without being fishy. Like a nice cut of hamachi but maybe even tastier. My only complaint was that the sushi rice seemed a little overcooked and mushy tonight, but it didn't detract too much from the wonderful fresh fish.
After all of that I thought about trying sea urchin for the first time (since I've heard nothing but raves about it) but decided I was too full. The total for the sushi was only $39.00. With tax and a generous tip, it was an even $52, about half the damage of my last visit. Granted, I didn't drink anything this time, but it was still considerably less expensive, for an equally satisfying meal!
As I walked out, I was also pleasantly surprised when Keizo thanked me by my name. He must know from my credit card, I don't know how else he would.
So anyway, I'm back in love with Sushi Zo.
Is it just me, or are Keizo's portions smaller than others? You can barely taste anything and then it's on to the next fish already. I guess I prefer the 2-piece system a la Nozawa.
Keizo's stuff is pretty fresh, though. His scallop nigiri was so sweet, I almost thought I was eating a fleshy fruit. And his warm ankimo was in-cre-dib-le.
I'll add to the chorus of approval.
The wife and I went last night, and had omakase at the bar: skipjack, kumamoto oyster, amberjack, red snapper, albacore, hamachi, sweet shrimp, black snapper, Spanish mackerel, toro, bluefin. We ended with salmon for me and blue crab hand roll for her. All fantastic, though I have to say that Sushi Spot's albacore is slightly better.
The only disturbing element of the evening was the shirako, or codfish milt. Now, I happen to know what "milt" is, but I failed to hear that word; in the chef's strongly accented English, it sounded like "cuttlefish milk."
"Hmm," I thought, "a confusing name, and a bit scary-looking, but certainly worth a try." And into my mouth it went. Well, it's certainly rich, but gave me the creeps even before we got home and Googled the name.
Here you go, kids: http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...
Cod load aside, this was a spectacular dinner. With a bottle of premium sake and a draft beer, the total was $138 for two. Here's hoping this place thrives. I award bonus points, by the way, for the fact that the chef was imperious and authoritative without being a dick, and was also keeping the whole room fed single-handedly.
re: Organ Leroy
Hee hee. I really don't know what I was thinking and I can't picture ANY fish being milked but Keizo was sneaky about it and I believed him. It looked like a tiny brain and had the taste and texture of brain so I thought that's what it might be. My boyfriend wasn't crazy about it and was simultaneously disgusted and thrilled with himself when I told him what we'd eaten. I'd order it again!
re: Organ Leroy
Yep... Keizo got me to try the shirako without telling me what it is. It was pretty good. Then I Googled it when I got home and was quite impressed with myself after learning what it is.
$138 for all of that was a steal! I've decided that my last omakase at $100 per person after booze, tax and tip was due to the three pieces of bluefin.
Next time try the ankimo!
Always happy to hear when folks have thrilled from the quality of Sushi Zo. We've been 3 times, and have indulged in Omakase only. Spousal unit and I have decided that we now have enough of a feel for what dishes are consistently home runs (but they mostly ALL are), and we will order on our own next time.