9824 National Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
My mother prefers not to eat raw fish. This, combined with the fact that San Francisco’s sushi scene pales in comparison to LA’s (there’s no doubt), means my dad doesn’t get good sushi too often. So my dad and I planned a sushi weekend, and he came down to visit and eat! We decided to start off with Sushi Zo (Friday), followed by Urasawa (Saturday) and ending with Asanebo (Sunday).
I first tried Sushi Zo last year and found it to be very good – enough to be the second best sushi restaurant I’ve been to in LA. You’d never expect as much from the outside, as it’s a really unassuming spot located in a strip mall with the likes of Vons and Rite Aid. It’s one of those places where, if you just stumbled in without reading up on anything, you’d probably leave thinking “what’s it doing there?”
The menu is omakase-only and, while not a set price, tends to run in the lower 100s. Don’t bother trying to order any cut rolls (especially a California roll!) because they won’t do it and will hate you for asking. Okay I’m not sure about that second part, but they’re very serious about their sushi, going so far as to post signs informing patrons of what constitutes good sushi etiquette.
We started off with a simple bowl of miso soup.
Plain and simple, and a good way to start the meal.
I enjoy raw oysters, especially in Japanese preparations. This went down easy with its clean, fresh flavor.
Next were four slices of tuna sashimi served with soy and wasabi. The tuna was marvelously tender, and barely necessitated chewing. The flavors were great as well. These tender pieces of fish would foreshadow what was to come.
Baby abalone was next, sliced and served within its shell with yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment made of peppers and yuzu. The abalone was rather chewy – a very interesting texture and consistency. However, it had a fairly mild ‘sea’ flavor, and I thought it went really well with a touch of soy and the yuzu kosho.
Squid with Uni
This was one of the more memorable dishes from my last visit, and it’s still excellent. The squid acts like noodles, with an al dente texture, and the uni is stirred up like a sauce…creating a pasta-like dish. Pretty unique, and the combination works very well.
What follows is the sushi – I won’t comment on each one individually at the risk of sounding repetitive, but the sushi was really, really good. I’ll say more after the pictures!
Medium-Fatty Tuna (Chutoro)
Butterfish seared with a mustard-like sauce
Golden Eye Snapper
Sea Urchin and Salmon Egg
Fatty Tuna (Toro) Hand Roll
I don’t say this very often, but everything was good. The first few pieces set the tone, being very tender, obviously fresh, with good flavor. That would continue throughout the courses, as all of the pieces of fish displayed clean flavors. The rice was consistently barely warm, and the fish at room temperature, which is perfect – I find temperatures are often overlooked at other restaurants.
I think it’s important to note that the sushi chefs will put whatever necessary on top of the sushi and give you instructions to either dip in soy or not to. I love it when they do this! The accompaniments never overshadowed the fish, but really melded well. However, the sushi pieces are on the small side – the fish slices are rather thin. You could say this gives you a chance to try more pieces. My favorites of the night would have to be the albacore, fatty tuna (always is, if prepared well), orange clam, monkfish liver, sweet shrimp, and halibut fin.
This completed our meal, and I’d have to say I was impressed. This was a step above my last trip here, and really solidified its position among the top sushi spots in the city. I think Sushi Zo provides some pretty good value as well, considering the quality of the fish. I will be back!
Sushi Zo provides no dessert options, so we went across town to Scoops to get some ice cream before they closed.
I got a scoop of the the hazelnut smoked porter, as well as the Earl Grey. The flavors are brilliant, though I always struggle with the temperature of the ice cream. I would love it to be a few degrees colder, as it begins to melt too quickly. I do think that one tastes the flavors more when it’s less cold, but I lose too much of the mouth-feel I enjoy.