September 2010


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sushi Zo – 01/24/2009


Located in a strip mall next to a Starbucks, Sushi Zo hardly seems like an one of LA's top sushi restaurants. I'd been looking for a reason to revisit the restaurant. One of my friends was about to have open heart surgery and we felt a trip to one of the best sushi restaurants in the city would do wonders for his spirit.

The restaurant is pretty sparse in terms of alcohol a modest sake selection and a few beers. We started with a bottle of Tsukasabotan Tokubetsu Junmai "Senchu Hassaku" ("Eight Point Plan"). A pretty approachable sake, a lot of initial sweetness and grain, with plenty of fruitiness on the midpalate and a dry clean finish. We then switched to beers, first Yebisus followed by Kirin.

01: Kumamoto Oyster
This beautiful morsel was the perfect embodiment of a Kumamoto Oyster, a creamy pearl surrounded by slightly crunchy muscle. Flawlessly prepared and served in a bath of ponzu, the harmonious blend of flavors served to heighten my anticipation for the meal ahead.

02: Maguro Sashimi – Bluefin Tuna
Typically I find tuna a bit boring, with no distinctive flavor or texture, but this was one of the fattier examples of tuna blending the clean fresh flavor with a pleasing richness. In addition the generous dollop of fresh wasabi added a sinus clearing kick to the fish.

03: Uni and Ika – Sea Urchin with Squid "Noodles"
This almost looks like some sort of ice cream but in reality it is uni with thin strands of raw squid. The uni has a more liquid texture than normal giving the dish a thick viscous mouthfeel. Still one of the weaker dishes for me as the freshness of the uni didn't seem up to par.

04: Awabi – Abalone
We were served a single baby abalone for the group and I was almost loath to share it. The abalone itself was a bit firmer than usual with a heavy crunch. Mildly flavored, the application of yuzu kosho added a tart peppery kick that excited the palate.

05: Hirame – Halibut
The first nigiri of the night, the halibut was fairly soft, lightly seasoned with salt and citrus. Simple yet still very well done.

06: Hotate – Scallop
One of the best scallop nigiri I have had. The flesh had a soft supple texture and a faint hint of sweetness delicious when taken with a light touch of soy.

07: Aji – Spanish Mackerel
I have been eating Aji ever since I started eating sushi and I have found the fish quality has improved so much over time. From the cooked overly fishy examples to this quivering jelly-like gem. The use of ginger and onion complimented the natural flavor of the fish while the fish was so soft it fairly melted on the tongue.

08: Ha-Gatsuo – Skipjack
A cousin to the ubiquitous tuna served at sushi restaurants across the country. Skipjack sits somewhere in between maguro and toro in terms of fat content and deftly combines the best elements of both. It consistently ranks among my favorite selections in the few restaurants that serve it.

09: Hamachi – Yellowtail
This was a distinctive presentation of yellowtail. The fish was a bit more complex than the typical yellowtail with a softer texture and a lean smoky flavor.

10: Toro – Fatty Tuna
For one of the best sushi restaurants in the city, the toro was fairly lackluster. The fish is uniformly smooth and tender with no gristle or tendon but it lacks the powerful oiliness of the best toros. For some reason we each received two pieces of toro. Maybe they wanted to shower us with luxury but more cynically the extra toro felt like a quick and easy way to fatten the bill.

11: Shima Aji – Striped Jack
Beautiful shimmery skin and pink tinged alabaster flesh. The fish has a slight crunch that gives way to a jelly like interior. The use of soy compliments the light fishiness wonderfully.

12: Amaebi – Sweet Shrimp
I've never been a fan of these smaller sweet shrimp as they tend to be overly creamy. If the creaminess wasn't enough this had a grainy almost frozen texture to it. One of my friends likened the course to a shrimp cocktail, a very apt description.

13: Kinmedai – Golden Eye Snapper
This snapper has a tender silky texture and clean flavor. The use of the homemade soy really elevates this fish to another level.

14: Meji Maguro – Baby Tuna
One of my favorites from my previous visit, the baby tuna has a satisfying dense mouthfeel. The use of soy, citrus, scallion, and ginger draw out the subtle flavor of the fish.

15: Kanpachi – Amberjack
An old favorite, this was a bit softer than the kanpachi during my last visit. The use of yuzu kocho gives an initial spicy kick that mellows into a mild sweetness allowing the fish to come to the fore.

16: Ankimo – Monkfish Liver
I heard that Sushi Zo served a warm ankimo, but it wasn't available during my last visit. The liver had a wonderful buttery soft texture, and a mild sweetness. The ankimo was delicious on its own, but the seaweed wrapping was a bit overpowering.

17: Ono – Wahoo
A popular fish at western restaurants, this is the first time I have seen it in a sushi restaurant. The fish is lightly cooked giving it a soft flaky texture. The common toppings of soy and citrus give the fish a salty-sweet interplay that works well with the natural oiliness of the fish.

18: Sayori – Needlefish
It seems no matter the restaurant, the sayori always is the most visually appealing of the fishes, the silver stripe highlighting the almost luminous white flesh. The needlefish was one of the firmest fishes of the night, with a light flavor that really highlighted the skill of Keizo-san's sauce.

19: Binnaga – Albacore
Another of my favorites during my first visit, the albacore may be even better this time around. Insanely soft and tender the fish has a fattiness more reminiscent of toro than albacore. The house sauce clashed with the oiliness of the fish in a complex and pleasing way.

20: Sake – Salmon
An overly tender salmon, I would have liked a bit more meatiness to the fish. The sweet marinated kelp contrasted nicely with the clea
n fresh flavor of the fish.

21: Aoyagi – Orange Clam
The clam had a dense firmness to it, very satisfying to bite through. The use of yuzu and rock salt worked wonders, balancing out the clam's intense natural brininess.

22: Uni Gunkan Maki – Sea Urchin
This gunkan-maki was almost like an ice cream cone with globules of uni overflowing from the top of the roll. The uni was a bit softer than most, with a texture almost like heavy cream. The use of fresh wasabi adds an element of complexity and helps balance the intense sweetness of the urchin.

22: Ikura Gunkan Maki – Salmon Roe
One of the best Ikura maki I have had in a long while. The globules were very firm and burst with cool brine when bitten.

24: Engawa – Halibut Fin
Another rare type of fish, I know it is served at a couple other restaurants in the area, but this actually my first experience with engawa. I was expecting something firm maybe with a bit of crunch but the meat was more like a nicely cooked fish with a slightly viscous feel.

25: Tai – Red Snapper
A very hit or miss fish depending on the restaurant. Zo's snapper ranks among the best, nice firm crunch and light fishiness, the wasabi really lingered throughout this dish.

26: Anago – Sea Eel
Definitely a leaner expression of anago, extremely soft with a smokiness not found in most eel. The lighter use of sauce really allowed the natural character of the eel to shine.

27: Toro Temaki – Fatty Tuna Hand Roll
Like most strict traditional sushi restaurants, Zo offers the fat cigar-shaped hand rolls stuffed simply with rice and seafood, in this case toro. I felt this preparation was akin to using Kobe beef to make a hamburger as the mashing ruined the typically delicate texture of the toro. Furthermore, the overly liberal dose of wasabi made it difficult to taste anything else.

28: Kurodai – Black Snapper
One of my top three fishes during my first visit. Texturally one of the best fishes, there is something immensely satisfying about the spry crunch and silky even texture.

29: Tako – Octopus
Sliced perfectly, the texture offered both a snappy bite and satisfying meaty chew. The use of salt and lemon accentuated the naturally light flavor of the octopus.

30: Kani Temaki – Blue Crab Hand Roll
One of the better hand rolls I have had of late. The clean sweetness of the shellfish is apparent from the start. The wasabi was used more effectively than in the toro temaki, adding a powerful heat without dominating the dish.

31: Tamago – Egg
A passable tamago, soft and cool it had a slight sweetness and an intense honey ham character to it.

We technically repeated two of the courses, the skipjack and Spanish mackerel, but I decided to set the camera aside and just concentrate on enjoying these last two bites.

32 Yuzu Juice
Dessert always consists of a shot of yuzu juice to cleanse the palate. Served ice cold, the juice has a fruity sweetness that refreshes and invigorates. I would drink this every day if I could, sadly the waitress ignored me when I asked where I could purchase some.

My second visit has solidified Zo's position as the second best sushi restaurant in the city behind Urasawa (although I would like to try Mori again). All the food came to a fairly reasonable $120 per person, not too bad considering we ordered one of everything. Unlike some other sushi restaurants the staff is not big on talk. Keizo-san didn't speak with us until the end of the meal and only then to ask if we had enough. If you want the social niceties that come with sitting at a sushi bar there are plenty of better choices, but if you want a fast-paced exciting sushi experience, I highly recommend Sushi Zo.

I am happy to report that even in the current economic climate, the restaurant is thriving. The friend who recommended the place told me about being the only diner on a Friday Night. During my first visit, the restaurant was about half full; this time we had to wait 15 minutes beyond our reservation time.


Posted by Epicuryan at 3/17/2009 12:47:00 AM



欧洲内移动主要利用Eurorail pass。我们买的是4国5天的pass。以为火车都坐过,没啥特别的,不必安排和担心,Guide根本没看,抹眼就去了。问题也就接踵而来。以后再表。









车站里的cafe随便问几个都不收,我不禁自问我这是在巴黎么? 最后毫不容易遇到一个有一点良知的cafe店,说你去换外汇的地方换换看。

7。Eurorail pass的时刻表也很狗血,还好我们在开车1个小时前发现车站不对,匆匆拿了行李,坐地铁去另外一个车站。




因为准备的太少,“惊喜”忒多,主要都发生在巴黎了。。。不得不说,对巴黎的印象真是差,多方位的,一个美好的浪漫都市从此幻灭了,如今看到巴黎就想起那个张乱差臭的城市。。。。。Surprised smile