Wow....very flashy, chic, happenin' spot in the burgeoning uptown area of Oakland, right near the Paramount Theater, Lake Merritt and a bunch of new condos...this is rapidly becoming a destination, and Ozumo is right at the heart of it.
As soon as I entered (actually, even before I entered, as there was a distinguishedly-dressed doorman/bouncer and several valets ready to assist with parking), I had a sense that there was a lot of capital and effort poured into making this a destination: cool, elegant dark lighting, atrractive hostesses, a DJ (really!) spinning 70's funk (loved it), a prominent, large island-style bar with a beautiful-people scene, but with an Oakland-flavor to it (as opposed to SF, e.g.), and the waterfall fountain in the back and gorgeous lighting throughout...
we sat in the sushi bar area in the back, and were well-attended by our sushi chef (Kino); he made sure we were taken care of, made suggestions without being pushy...he's also very personable, and we chatted with him and our fellow customers, and we exchanged opinions about the food....we had several rolls and nigiri (fish on rice only), and it was all immaculately fresh. we also ordered one appetizer (tuna tartare on top of spicy tofu, kinda looked like potato salad, with mashed avocado around the outside, served in a circle mold form, with won ton skin chips), which was pretty good, tho the flavors seemed to blend into each other...
our waitress was very pleasant, and willing to serve at a moments notice...i kinda felt bad for her; she was standing around and just waiting for an opportunity to serve us....maybe its different when its more busy, but in general, we were asked and approached by several staff if there was anything we needed. it was a bit overwhelming, and indicative of a new place working kinks out...in comparison, Kino was very relaxed and understated, and was more concerned that we enjoy ourselves, without being pushy. the "manager" hovering around in the background looked tense and uptight, a mood that seemed to be passed on to the staff she was interacting with. maybe this aspect needs to be worked out, as it seems the staff is more than willing (and able, as far as I saw) to serve and be welcoming.
i would enjoy returning and checking out the bar scene, to have kino recommend what to have on a particular day (he knows his stuff), have a few nibbles and take in the lavish atmosphere. our bill came out to about $90, including tip, three glasses of wine (no Koshu wines? :( ), about three rolls, three or four nigiri orders and the appetizer. not cheap, but giventhe surroundings, not outrageous.
I recently tried Ozumo in Oakland with some trepidation having been to Ozumo SF on one occasion several years ago. I had found Ozumo SF to be way too cool and ridiculously expensive for good but not great sushi. I am very happy to report that Ozumo Oakland is very good. The I am way too cool vibe has been toned down in Oakland. They really pull off a sophisticated yet relaxed feel (I too was worried about the velvet rope and bouncerish looking guy outside but I think he's just there for security - this is near downtown Oakland after all.
We sat at the bar area and had a bunch of small plates. The warm lettuce salad with crispy pork belly is to die for! Next we had the Ikakoruma - tempura calamari and it was very nice as well, as was the tuna tartare with avocado cream and tofu. We also had the Gindara - miso marinated black cod. It was not as good as that of Nobu's (my gold standard) but we ate it heartily. We finished up with a couple of pieces of mackerel and a shrimp tempura roll.
I am so happy that Ozumo is in the neighborhood since we plan to come back again to try the Shishito fried peppers (which are similar to the Padron peppers at Cesar) and the hamachi and avocado sashimi.
Here is a link to their menu http://www.ozumo.com/main.htm