LA Sushi: Sushi Zo (Apr. 2013)
Restaurant: Sushi Zo
Chef: Keizo Seki
Date: April 19, 2013
(I really should not have eaten here hahaha. I made a reservation for 5:30 p.m., two hours before my Yamakase reservation at 7:30 p.m., and I ended up eating 38 pieces of sushi here… somehow. I’m faaaaaaaat.)
Sushi Zo is often a contender for second-best sushi in LA; other contenders include Mori Sushi, Kiriko, and so on. (Urasawa is pretty much first in my book and many others’ books.)
Chef Seki is known for his warm rice, and it reminded me a lot of Sasabune’s rice. It was REALLY soft and fluffy—I think Chef Seki’s philosophy is that warm rice helps you focus on the taste and texture of the fish more. (However, there’s that whole controversy where people are against warm rice and so on. Oh well.) Anyway, the rice wasn’t quite as warm as Sasabune’s, and it broke apart less (as a result of that, I think). Also, the nigiri pieces were smaller, so the warmth of the rice wasn’t as big of a deal to me.
The fish was very fresh, and there was a decent selection of the normal fish you see as well as fish from Japan. I kind of wish they used less condiments, but that’s entirely up to the restaurant and chef, and I enjoyed the sushi regardless. Still… it would have been nice to be able to taste and focus on the fish by itself, free from condiments such as sea salt or yuzu.
0: Bad / average / can do without eating
1: Solid / decent
3: EXCELLENT / one of the best things I’ve ever eaten
(Unless I list a 0, 2, or 3, assume that the dish was a 1.)
Baby awabi (abalone) with yuzukoshō on the side.
The abalone itself was average (in comparison to other awabi I’ve had at high-end sushi places), but adding the yuzukoshō made this a wonderful dish. It added dimensions of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness to the otherwise relatively one-dimensional taste of abalone.
Uni (sea urchin) from Catalina Island and ika (squid) with black truffle salt.
This had the texture of ika with a creamy background of uni. It wasn’t too sweet, and it tasted like a creamy and sliiiiightly sweet ika with black truffle!
Hirame (halibut) with sea salt and lemon.
Albacore tuna with ponzu sauce.
Aji (horse mackerel) from Japan.
(They said aji and then called it Spanish mackerel…)
Hotategai (sea scallop) from East Coast.
The hotate was soft and sweet, and the soy sauce definitely complemented it without being overpowering.
Chūtoro (medium-fatty tuna).
I was debating whether to rate this as a 1 or a 2. It was definitely very creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Unfortunately, I’ve had lots of chūtoro that has been wonderful. The rice here made me decide to give this a 2, though—the combination of the warm rice really made the chūtoro stick out that much more.
Pompano with ponzu.
Kanpachi (amberjack) with yuzukoshō and lemon.
Kinmedai (golden eye snapper or splendid alfonsino).
The rice was a LITTLE grainy for this piece. The fish itself, however, was wonderful and, in a way, made up for the subpar rice in this piece.
Ankimo (monkfish liver) with ponzu.
The ankimo was creamy, but the ponzu was unnecessary—I would have thoroughly enjoyed the ankimo with just seaweed and rice.
Kurodai (black snapper) with black truffle salt.
Slightly seared madara (a type of black cod) with miso-vinegar sauce.
Amaebi (sweet shrimp).
The shrimp was decent. I would have wanted to try it without soy sauce; I think it tasted a bit more salty than it did sweet. Also, I wish it came with fried shrimp head—I loooove that stuff.
Katsuo (skipjack tuna).
Mirugai (giant clam) with sea salt and lemon.
Baby squid with ginger and miso-vinegar sauce.
Ika nigiri can be a little painful to eat sometimes because of how chewy ika can be, but I like how baby squid has no such problems. Each squid had lots of flavor, and they were also really easy to chew and swallow. The miso-vinegar sauce and ginger helped to tone down and provided a nice contrast to the otherwise strong taste of squid.
Akamutsu (red bluefish).
Shima aji (striped jack).
Kasugodai (baby red snapper).
Sayori (needlefish) with ginger, chives, and ponzu sauce.
Aoyagi (orange clam) “joined parts” with black truffle salt.
The center where the two parts joined had this wonderful chewiness that definitely beat out the texture of other aoyagi that I’ve had, and the black truffle salt added a wonderful truffley touch to the nigiri. Then again, my truffle bias might be coming into play here…
Isaki (grunt) from Japan.
Sawara (Spanish mackerel) with ginger, chives, and ponzu sauce.
Alfonsino (kin something).
Madai (red snapper) with yuzu and sea salt.
I thought that the sea salt overpowered the madai here.
Tail parts of tuna. (I totally forgot to write down the Japanese name when he said it.)
Sushi 29: Uni (sea urchin) from Catalina Island.
Sushi 30: Ikura (salmon roe).
The uni was creamy and kind of sweet, but I think I prefer uni from Santa Barbara more—it’s sweeter.
Rating (of ikura): 2
The ikura were rich and exploded in my mouth like the little pockets of happiness that they are ^__^.
Anago (saltwater eel).
I actually didn’t like the anago here all that much—it tasted a little bland (compared to other anago I’ve had). It was still solid—it just wasn’t as good as anago from, say, 15 East.
Toro hand roll.
Tamago (egg omelet).
The tamago was soft, sweet, and very moist. I definitely could have eaten many, many more servings of this.
At this point, I just asked for more. I pretty much wanted to try everything they had available! …YOLO?
Akami (lean tuna).
Tai (red snapper).
Sake (salmon) with marinated seaweed.
The marinated seaweed tasted like this thin sheet of slightly sweet jello that added a nice textural backdrop to the soft and chewy piece of salmon.
Cooked engawa (halibut fin) with ponzu sauce.
I could have lived without this one. I would have wanted to try it raw; I think I would have gotten a better feel for the fish raw than cooked.
Blue crab hand roll.
Mmmm…. I like my blue crab hand rolls a lot ^__^. I’m at this weird stage right now where I prefer a hand roll with blue crab over one with toro. There’s just something about the texture and creaminess of blue crab that I like over toro.
I guess they don’t really serve desserts here, but this served as a nice end to the meal. It was sweet, but it didn’t make you go “Oh God this just tastes like sugar, sugar, and more sugar.” (…If that makes sense!)