If you wind your way far enough down National you will come around a bend and spot a Starbucks in a strip mall in Palms. I grow giddy every time I see it…because it sits next to Sushi Zo, arguably the best sushi place in Los Angeles. Really, it’s that good.
There are no menus – it’s all omakase. You can tell them to stop if you get full, or tell them to continue if you want more. They pro-rate the price around their standard $100 dinner, which is usually a good 20 courses. (Each course is typically a small piece of fish.)
Keizo, head chef and Master of the Universe, changes the menu depending on what he has in house, but there are staples.
His tuna sashimi is next to godliness. I’ve never had cuts of tuna so good. He somehow slices it so it melts in your mouth with the slightest effort of the masseter.
Another staple is the hand roll he fashions for you at the end, either crab or toro. Both are quite amazing.
And I must mention the rice and soy sauce – as good as any counterparts I’ve ever had. (Keizo learned to make rice properly for a year before touching a piece of fish.)
Tonight, six dishes stood out. The albacore, spanish mackerel, sawara, giant clam, squid and sea eel were astounding. Yes, it’s almost like being on Iron Chef Japan. Giggling girls included.
The preparation of the mackerel amplified all of the flavors of the fish. The clam, chewy and creamy, started very pungent and then left a complex finish of briny ocean in the mouth. The squid – somehow cut to look like a typical piece of fish – had the sweet and floral flavors of really good sweet shrimp. And the anago (sea eel) – delicate and sweet. Made me want to eat see eal forever. Sawara (a japanese seasonal fish) was sturdy in the mouth yet delicate and fatty all at once. Mouthgasm. I even requested two orders. It’s important to make sound decisions while being pleasured by good food.
Zo is always good, it’s actually fairly priced for the quality and the experience. Let’s be clear, this is not for a sushi newbie or a California roll lover. There are those who quibble about the lack of decor or how particular the service is. If you want something different than what is offered, or the dishes to come a little slower, you can just tell them. They are always very friendly and informative.
All in all, one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I have yet to try Urasawa, but will surely update this review after I do for a comparison.
4 out of 4 paws