Sushi Zo

Restaurant: Sushi Zo

Location: 9824 National BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90034. (310) 842-3977

Date: April 8, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

Rating: Top warm rice style sushi.

LA is a sushi town. I eat a lot of sushi (just take a look at my LA Sushi review page!). People say Zo is the best in town. I finally went.

Unfortuantly, this outside shot is all you get, because they don’t allow photography. Bummer, because the sushi was good.

Zo is omakase only. You sit down. They bring you stuff. They charge you by the piece but don’t really tell you how much. They keep bringing you sushi. Eventually you get full and they hand you a (stiff) bill. It’s closest in style and format to Sasabune (my detailed reviews of that, with photos, HERE and HERE).

This is Osaka-style “warm rice” sushi, like Sasabune, and presumably descended from the same Chef Nozawa source. The individual pieces are made one at a time, no precutting, and given to you in a hurry. The fish is superlative, although each piece seems to have been placed in a miniaturization machine set to 70%. I’ve never seen sushi this small. This was particularly humorous when it came to the “battleship” style ones like Uni (sea urchin). They just looked so cute and diminutive (maybe 50-60% size for these). But I’m not sure this size issue resulted directly in less value. At the end I was still just as full as at Sasabune, although it cost perhaps 10-20% more. I perhaps had more pieces numerically. But each was certainly smaller.

The fish was a bit better than Sasabune, and certainly better than Echigo. The preps are very similar, with 90% being “no soy sauce” — a fact of which we were emphatically reminded each and every time. There was a lot of use of vinegar, yuzu and other brightening flavors. I do like these, but I think it did tend to distract slightly from the fish — which was stellar.

The chef had a bit of an attitude. Bordering on brusk. First the no camera bit. Then the sushi-nazi style directions on the table about proper sushi etiquette, the hurried pace, and the “no soy sauce” or “yes soy sauce” commands — barked.

But food wise, this is overall the best warm-rice style sushi I’ve had in recent years. I really should go back to Nozawa, but it’s been way too long for me to give him proper perspective.

But I’m thinking I prefer Sushi Sushi (reviews HEREHERE, and HERE). The deal is a little better, it has more variety of style, the fish is just as good, and I prefer the more traditional Tokyo (cold rice) style, the friendly chefs, and the emphasis on the taste of the fish.

For more sushi reviews, check out my LA Sushi page.

Sushi Sushi Sushi

Restaurant: Sushi Sushi [1, 2, 3, 4]

Location: 326 1/2 Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 277-1165

Date: March 30, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Old school sushi – fantastic fish and presentation!


Sushi Sushi is fast becoming one of my preferred sushi places. I had actually intended to try out Sushi Zo, but they were closed for the week so I had to “settle” for this new favorite. We decided to try out the “large omakase” this time, as I had done both ala carte (HERE) and the medium one (HERE). It was great as expected, although not much different than the medium, which I think is a better value.

One of the chefs with the big slab of home ground real wasabi. This is one of many ways in which the men are separated from the boys. Accept no powdered green stuff.

Japanese bonito sashimi, lightly seared. Marinated seaweed and pickles. Soft and flavorful.

This device is used to shave the daikon radish into long paper-like strips.

Each of us got slightly different sashimi plates. This one is the “no sea urchin” version.

Ankimo (monkfish liver), with scallions and pickles in a ponzu. Perfectly fresh, with that rich creamy texture that it’s supposed to have, a hint of grainy, a hint of fishy,  but very mild (no such thing as monkfish liver with NO taste of the sea — what would be the point of that?)

Raw Japanese scallops with salmon roe.

Saba Mackerel with miso paste.

The urchin plate, only the middle is different.

Two kinds of uni (sea urchin). Santa Barbara and Japanese. It tops a pile of squid bits and includes pickles and wasabi. The combo is delicious, and all texture.

The rounds of regular sushi begins. Note that all the sushi here has been pre-applied with sauce, even when it’s just soy sauce. This red yummy is maguro (Blue fin tuna). This is some of the best tuna I’ve ever had, totally melts in the mouth.

Yuzu, Japanese citrus. Shavings or juice from this little fruit are added to a number of dishes. The chef keeps it sitting on the freezer pipes in the fish case so it’s easy to shave.

Tai (Red Snapper), with a ponzu and shavings of the yuzu. This is a lighter fish, but I’m very partial to it.

Chu-toro (medium grade fatty tuna belly). This is also melt in the mouth amazing.

Kampachi (young yellowtail). Like Himachi, but more tender.

The chu-toro was just a warmup for this o-toro, the even more fatty toro. It melted in the mouse like butter. Always one of my (and everyone else’s) favorites.

Some very specific kind of yellowtail, “vury yellowtail?” It was hard to remember the exact name. But it was darn good.

This was a piece of scottish salmon. One of the best pieces of salmon I’ve ever had. Incredible!

Aji (Spanish Mackerel), with only the very slightest bit of fishy. Again, a great mackerel. Somehow I missed the photo of it AGAIN!

Kohada (Japanese Herring) This was great herring, but is certainly a bit fishy — herring always is.

Saba mackerel, not as good as the Spanish one, but nothing to mock either. There is a bit of “batera” seaweed on top and some pepper.

A fiery new dish in the works.

Seared toro on the bottom, scottish salmon on top. Both delectable. They taste very different half cooked. Warm, fattier, with a bit fo char flavor.

Another round of sashimi. Sweet shrimp, Japanese scallop, giant clam, and taco (octopus). Are were prefect examples of the breed, and doused with a little bit of yuzu (just the fruit, not with the pepper) to test them up. The shrimp had a wasabi “ebi brain” sauce. This is really a mix of shrimp guys (liver). Sounds awful, but tastes good.

And it continues.

Ikura (salmon roe). Perfectly fresh, with just the slightest hint of brine (good). Wonderfully taught, they explode in the mouth like little brine balls.

They say you should judge a sushi chef by his tamago (sweet omelet). By those standards Sushi Sushi rules.

Kampachi cheek. This was marinated in one of those sweet broths I would frequently get in Japan. There was a bit of bone but the meat was incredibly soft (consistency like tuna fish?) and delectable. I really enjoyed the heavily marinated root vegetable. I don’t remember what these are, but I’d get them in Japan all the time.

Asari miso (clam broth miso soup). This is a very light miso, with a clam brothy quality. Not too salty, very nice.

Uni (sea urchin) sushi. I can’t get enough of this. It amazes me to think that even just a couple years ago (bear in mind that I have been eating sushi since 1978) I didn’t like the stuff.

Diced Toro handroll. This shiso leaf and shaved yuzu inside, which added texture, tang, and the exotic and wonderful flavor of the leaf.

Unagi (Fresh water eel). BBQ, with the sweet eel sauce. This was some damn fine eel, as good a piece as I’ve had.

The omakase included dessert, this concoction of fruit, green tea ice cream, green tea panna cotta, sweet bean sauce, and whipped cream. Oh yes, and with a “mens pocky” as garnish and corn flakes underneath. Pretty good, and all Japanese.

If  you like sushi —  and how doesn’t? — then you owe it to yourself to try Sushi Sushi. This is some seriously good fish.

CLICK HERE for a review of the Sushi Sushi medium omakase.

CLICK HERE for a review of Sushi Sushi ala carte.

Or here for the LA sushi page.

Takao Two

Restaurant: Takao [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Location: 11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. (310) 207-8636

Date: March 13, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

Rating: 9/10 creative “new style” sushi


I’ve already covered Takao in some detail HERE, but we went back (we go often) and I built another “custom omakase” trying some different things. The full menu and some information on the history of the place can be found through the above link.

House cold sake. Masumi “Okuden-Kanzukuri” Nagano prefecture.

Miso soup. I think if you ask they have a couple different types. This is the basic scallion and tofu.

Big eye tuna sashimi. This displays the fish at it’s finest.

Wild Japanese Scallop sashimi. I love good scallops. These had that pleasant meaty texture, and the soft “scallopy” flavor.

Tai (red snapper), with garlic, salt, red peppercorn, onions, olive oil. A very bright flavor, and the peppercorns, not spicy at all, add a nice textural component.

Main lobster tempura (1/2). Takao has a lot of interesting tempuras. Uni (my second favorite), sardine, crab, unusual seafood pancake with shiso, and more. This is a decadent favorite of mine, and in a half portion is pretty reasonable.

Rock Shrimp Tempura Dynamite. The underlying component is in itself tasty. Sweet rock shrimp perfectly fried. Then you ad some dynamite with it’s zesty zing and it gets even better. For those not in the know Dynamite is a warm sauce consisting of mayo, sriarcha hot sauce, and masago semlt roe.

This is a very traditional Japanese egg custard with bits of mushroom, shrimp, and white fish baked inside. It has a very subtle mellow eggy flavor I find nostalgic from my many trips to Japan.

Just some of the sushi.

In the very front, Wild Japanese Scallop sushi. Behind that next to the wasabi is Tai (red snapper).

In the back, chu-toro (fatty tuna belly). Melts in your mouth!

Salmon of course.

Kanpachi (young yellow tail).

In the center, Ika (squid), perfect chewy pasty texture.

And fresh raw Tako (octopus). Most places serve it only frozen/cooked. This had a bit of yuzu on it, delicious.

On the left, Ikura (salmon eggs), and on the right Uni (Santa Barbara Sea Urchin). Both delicious.

Albacore with a bit of ginger and scallions.

Salmon tempura cut roll (technically for my two year old).

A bit more sushi. In the back grilled Unagi (fresh water eel) rolls, and Hamachi (yellowtail) and scallion rolls.

Kani (Alaskan king crab) sushi.

Tamago (sweet egg omelet) sushi.

And some vanilla mochi balls (ice cream covered with sweetened pounded rice). The red stuff is strawberry sauce.

Takao is top flight as always. I tend to enjoy ordering ala carte like this best, but it’s actually more expensive than getting an omakase, perhaps because I order a lot more sushi.

For my LA Sushi index, click here.

Sasabune – Dueling Omakases

Restaurant: Sasabune [1, 2]

Location: 12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150 (South Carmelina Avenue) Los Angeles, CA 90025, (310) 820-3596

Date: December 21, 2010

Cuisine: Japanese

Rating: Excellent as always.


For the second time in a week we went back to Sasabune, one of my favorite Sushi joints. I have blogged in detail about it before, but this time I have a real smorgasborg of options.

Fresh real Wasabe and pickled ginger await us on the table.

First I’ll show the $18 Lunch special.
It includes 3 pieces of sushi. Maguro (Tuna), Salmon, Hamachi (Yellowtail).

Salad and Miso soup.

A choice of bowl.  This is the Tuna bowl.

Shiro Maguro (Albacore) bowl is a different option.

The incomparable Blue crab handroll finishes (each lunch gets one).

Those that enjoyed this more minimalist option (not me, my faithful readers now that I’m a maximalist), ordered some extra sets of sushi like…

Hotatagai (scallop). These raw Japanese sea scallops with yuzu juice, salt, and green pepper are devine. The yuzu provides a delicious snap and the texture is soft and buttery.


Next up on the chain of gluttony is the “Normal Omakase.” This can be customized, so the depicted version has no shellfish.

Albacore shashmi to start.

And when two or more people do the Omakase they often bring multiple shashimis to share. Baby tuna sashimi.

Blue fin Toro (tuna belly) and tuna in a sweet sauce. The toro is melt in your mouth soft.

Ono and halibut in tangy sauces.

Scottish salmon and premium Japanese yellowtail. The salmon has a traditional bit of seaweed/kelp on it, and sesame seeds.

Tai (Red Snapper) and Pampano Fish.

Albacore belly and Kampachi (Amberjack). The albacore has a slightly sweet sauce.


Seared Butterfish in a slightly sweet soy sauce.

Yellowtail handroll. Normally the Omakase would include the blue crab handroll, but as this was no shellfish…


If one is feeling really out there. The Japanese Omakase — this was me.

Pan shell or razorback clam sashimi. Yuzu/pepper paste, and 10,000 year old sea salt.

Blue fin Toro (tuna belly) and tuna in a sweet sauce.

Japanese Mackerel with shiso leaf and Tai (red snapper). Both in a tangy vinegar sauce.

Oysters, dynamite on the left and raw with a little vinegar and spicy radish on the right.

Scottish salmon and premium Japanese yellowtail.

Sweet shrimp and Japanese Scallop.

Uni (Sea Urchin) and Ikura (Salmon Egg). The Uni was from Santa Barbara, and delectably sweet. The Ikura popped in the mouth — little blasts of salty/fishy (in a good way).

Orange Clam with yuzu and Giant Clam with shiso leaf. I love Shiso leaf.

Again the Blue Crab handroll.

Now that was some good sushi.