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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sushi Zo: Excellent But Too Sauce-Happy

I'm usually very loyal to my fave sushi joint in LA (Hiko Sushi), but I had to taste for myself the hype that Sushi Zo got in message boards galore. The sushi was excellent. The chef was also known to be a rude and forceful sushi chef, in the vain of the Nozawa "trust me" chef. Service was definitely rude but the sushi made it bearable. The best was squid sashimi cut in strips topped with uni. The combination of silky and chewy strips of squid with creamy, delicious uni was amazing.

The fish was top quality but the only gripe besides the service and arrogance of the chef was the over-saucing of fish that was so fresh it would have been perfectly fine without sauce of any kind. This yellowtail was an exception that only had minced yuzu and some rock salt as a topping.

Toro, or fatty tuna, is usually my favorite sushi but he bathed the toro in some soy sauce-based concoction that I felt masked the truly fresh flavor of the fish.

Another case in point was the sea bass, which was also topped with some kind of soy sauce with minced garlic and green onions. I thought the fresh could have easily stood on its own.

The time when I appreciated the sauce-happiness was the monkfish liver, which was deliciously topped with some fishegg sauce with green onions.

I must disclose that my favorite sushi joint, Hiko Sushi, also has a chef that people think is too arrogant and rude. But I'm biased, because I love me my Shinji-san (at Hiko) and he's never rude to me (he even accomodates my request of no wasabi in the sushi -- imagine that!).

Maybe this Zo guy is nicer to other regulars and he may have gotten ticked off when I asked him for his recommendations on what's most fresh. His answer: Everything is fresh. True, Shinji-san would have said the same thing and may have even added indignantly, "Stupid question." But Chef Zo was so belligerent in his ways that it really turns off the customer. What's with this sushi dictatorship trend?

Sushi Zo is worth trying but not sure it will replace my Hiko anytime soon.

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