OMG Food!

Soup's on, folks! I'm Tina M. Courtney, aka PoetKitty -- a Los Angeles based food writer audacious enough to think I can critique all manner of eateries. It's a labor of love, and I'm honored to welcome you. Grab a fork and let's get this party started.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

SushiZo - Go Go Go!


Sushizo
9824 National Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
9.25.06 - Monday, 1:00 PM
Myself + 1 guest (Best. Pastry. Chef. Ever.)

I'll just come right out and say it - this is going to be a crappy review. Not because the offerings were at all sub-standard - quite the contrary - but because I was a social little beast and did NOT pay attention to all the greatness that was flashed before me. And promptly thrown into my welcoming belly. So you've been warned.

I got lost finding SushiZo. Something happens to me when I venture west of La Cienega, where streets make no sense, curve randomly, and change names without warning. National is tres guilty. But I clicked on my raw fish homing device, and eventually found my way.

Like many magnificent sushi joints, Zo is in a strip mall, street side. The space is clean and minimal - it screams of sanitary goodness. It was woefully empty, however, save myself and my beloved dining companion, but I never mind when the chef can focus. It was an indulgent omakase day, so I craved his attention. Chef K, I believe, is the name he goes by - a delightful gentleman with strict instructions on how to eat every offering. I, for one, appreciate such audacity - I'm not Japanese, and I'm not the chef, and if he tells me no soy sauce, by god, I'm listening. We made it clear there were no limits as to ingredients and preparations, so, you know, the bar was set.

OK, so as I warned you, I didn't take notes. I can't even tell you how m any courses (or rather, bites) we had, but I'll list the highlights to get you salivating. I'll just say it was *divine* - every bite. Even sushi pieces I don't normally go bonkers for seriously satisfied me. No, this isn't Urasawa worthy, but who is, besides maybe some NYC and Tokyo joints? Zo served up one of my fav omakase experiences thus far, and for an impromptu, spontaneous lunch indulgence with bueno company to match, you won't hear an ounce of dissension from these parts.

Zee highlights, as I remember 'em:

Toro - always a highlight, but this was exceptional. Melted on contact with my happy little tongue. Mmmm tuna belly fat.
Sweet shrimp - best I've ever had, complete with the roasted shrimp head. I didn't eat all the crunchy legs, but I still loved his brains. Dear god, did I just write that?
Salmon roe - I've never been crazy about these egg wonders before - they've rather reminded me of eating bath beads. These, however, were so super fresh and bursting-delicious, I was completely won over.
Salmon - tied with R23 for the best bite of salmon I've ever had. Buttery smooth with just a subtle hint of density, seaweed, and lemon. Amazing.
Albacore - it's hard to mess this up, in my book, but the quality just shot this one out of the stratosphere. It's rarely THIS good.
Scallop - not as good as those at Tama, but also tasty - an amazing firmness that melts away in an instant. Like eating the softest seashell in the world - so ocean-fresh and citrusy.
Yellowtail - probably my favorite of the meal; so delicate and flavorful, I got a little veklempt.
Eel - hot, fatty, and slathered with that phenomenal sauce; we ended things on a sweetly delicious note.

The biggest standout at SushiZo isn't so much the fish, as this kind of quality is available in a few spots across the city. No, what both my companion and I noted was the rice; the temperature was warm and soothing, and contrasted perfectly with the coolness of the fish. The melding of the two matched so harmoniously, it gave each bite a memorable, melt-in-your-mouth appeal. So. Incredibly. Good.

We ate for a solid hour or so - the total for 1 green tea, 2 beers, and 2 omakase was $168, before tip. Sure, that's a pricey lunch, but for this kind of treasure, I would have paid more and not batted a lash. Zo is a fabulous little raw haven.


RESTAURANT REPORT CARD - SushiZo, Visit 1

Ambiance - B-
Service - B+
Food (Taste) - A-
Food (Presentation) - B
Wine/Drinks - (Can't rate - didn't have anything except tea)
Value - B
Vibe/Energy/Scene - D+
Overall Experience - B

Final word - It's on my sushi fav shortlist, plain and simple.



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