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ZO Rules

I haven't been to Sushi Zo for a while but went last night.

I loved Zo, going weekly (if not more), when it first opened but I must admit I got a bit burnt out, as it didn't change much. The quality was always great but the omakase was always the same omakase.

Last night just blew me away. I really don't think anything else in the city compares for straight nigiri sushi: fight-back-fresh fish, hand-made soy (and other) sauce(s), yummy vinegered rice and wonderful uni, ikura, abalone, oysters etc. I brought a friend who taught English in Tokyo for a while and he was spectacularly impressed.

I was especially thrilled by the difference in the menu, many new fish I hadn't had previously and rotation off of some I was tired of (no more butterfish).

It was superb. Urasawa, where I have been lucky enough to dine twice this year, is far more like Keiseki dining with a large sushi course than a sushi bar -- and it is 3x the price of Zo -- so I will leave it out of comparisons. Almost all the other sushi meals I have had in a while were nowhere as great as Zo.

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  1. agreed. zo is my favorite spot in la for omakase.

    1. I will say that the sushi here rivals that of Urasawa - no doubt about it, and as you note, at least 66% less expensive.

      1. I adore Zo. Really fantastic every time. One thing I'll say about Keizo-san, he's getting a bit crafty! He knows I love his ankimo and uni. The last few times I've had omakase he has left these two out and then inquired as to whether I want anything else. Naturally, I request these two and then get charged extra for them. It's a tiny thing and certainly not enough to stop me going, in fact I'd happily pay much more for what he serves.

        6 Replies
        1. re: hrhboo

          there's no fixed price for omakase. every single item is tallied up at the end of the meal a la carte. you can see the checked off sushi menu sheet along with the final check.

          1. re: zack

            I am aware of that, but he always served uni and ankimo without my having to request it, until I overdid the gushing about how much I love it. The past 3 or 4 times I have had to ask for it at the end, even though my fellow diners at the bar were served it. This does increase the price but is totally worth it.

            1. re: hrhboo

              Is it totally inappropriate to ask him to include uni and ankimo in the omakase when you first order it? It seems that would solve the problem. But I don't know omakase etiquette.

              By the way, I also felt that they were a little crafty in an effort to increase the price when I was there recently. We wanted to order off the menu, and the person who seated us pressured us to order the omakase, which tends to cost more. We did not succumb to the pressure. Then at one point when ordering we asked our waitress if anything was particularly good/fresh today. We often ask that when ordering sushi at other places--or really when ordering at any restaurant--and it's never been a problem. But the server at Zo replied that only the chef knows what's good, and implied that if we wanted recommendations we should order the omakase. We were a bit taken aback by her cold response. Last time I checked, it's not a crime to order off the menu in a restaurant! It was also practically empty when we were there, so it's not like we were taking up space that could be occupied by higher-spending patrons.

              1. re: Nicole

                Don't be taken aback by the response, it's really the chef's question to answer, not the server.

                It's not rude at all, nor is the request out of line once he's served up a volley of what he wanted you to try. Sometimes I have to ask for uni; usually I don't.

                Keep in mind also that if it were subpar product, Keizo-san wouldn't have procured it in the first place, so the question is a bit like walking into a Ferrari dealership and asking which one is fast.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  Agreed, considering Keizo goes to the fish market every morning, asking what is fresh is kind of ridiculous. All true edo-style Itamaes will discard expired fish. He recommends the omakase not solely on the fact that he wants to wring every little nickel from your wallet but because he stands by what he selects at the market. Yes, you will save money ala carte and you can be assured that the selection will be definitely fresh. The servers at Sushizo are not like other restaurants where they will tell you what is good or fresh, as they expect you to know what you want. Different in that regard, and for better or for worse........

                  Sushizo is the best sushi in LA in my mind. Bar None

                  1. re: Schweinhaxen

                    I've found that ordering a la carte often works out to about the same price as omakase, at least for me.

        2. What was your omakase this time? I had also noticed recently that the omakase was repeating itself somewhat: kunomoto oyster, amberjack sashimi, tuna, scallop, yellowtail, skipjack, uni, etc. and was thinking I wanted to wait to return until something new developed. I realize I'm so spoiled by his fantastic fish that it seems greedy to expect more, but I do. Would love to hear what blew you away as I have some time to return coming up in the next week or so...

          2 Replies
          1. re: NAspy

            A few that I recall standing out: Tai-shiso, Black snapper, hotate, clam (surf, I think), stripped jack, something like aji (spanish makerel) but not aji and ikura.

            1. re: Ciao Bob

              Oh yes I've had the striped jack and black snapper once or twice -- awesome. the first time I went to Zo and had omakase he served me barracuda but I haven't had it since. I asked him about it once and he told me it's seasonal which I should have figured out myself.

          2. I'm a fan of Sushi Zo but Mori's quality is as good if not better than Zo's. The rice at Mori is definitely better. Zo's selection is greater and Mori is about 30-50% more than Zo. But if you're talking quality when comparing nigiri to nigiri, Mori and Zo are neck and neck.

            1. If you're looking for easy, clean straight-up nigiri Zo is great and efficient.

              I have had better fish at Shunji and Urasawa (maybe), but Zo's sauces are more easy-to-please than Urasawa's and you have much, much more sushi variety. Shunji is Urasawa's level, and I'd recommend giving it a shot although his go-to is cooked dishes so you might be doing yourself a disservice not checking out a couple.

              6 Replies
              1. re: dndicicco

                Yep.

                Right now Shunjis sushi is the best for my taste followed by Shibucho and Mori and then go smart. After all he always have to go smart when it comes to sushi.

                1. re: dndicicco

                  Was there last night -- shunji - perfect! This is a very old post of mine. Zo no longer rules for me - Shunji Rains [sic]

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      Maybe a little "surf" terminology..."Shunji Shreds"? (I know he grates).

                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                        Did you wish him "Otanjoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu"?