"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Here is a little warning for any of you who may decided to come and spend some time in LA LA Land. Never, and I mean never start a conversation about sushi. Never.

Bugger me can they bore the arse off you about it and how good it is here and how bad it is in the rest of the world (Japan, anyone?) particularly New York a place with which the people of The City of Angels seem to have a slightly unhealthy fixation and not in a good Mother Theresa “let’s help the poor bastards out because they live in New York” kind of way, more in a Tobe Hooper “let’s skin the bastards alive” kind of way.

So when, Sybil suggested a supper of raw fish after she returned from a day at the office, I quailed slightly at the barrage to come particularly when she told me that her local “joint” Sushi Zo had just been awarded 1* in the brand new Michelin list.

You certainly would not mark it down as a Michelin place from its location in a slightly grim strip mall nor from the room itself, which hardly barked star standard, but the array of fish on display at the sushi station did give a clue that something different was on offer. So too did the announcement of the host, as we sat in front of Keizo, the serious faced owner/chef, that there was no longer any menu being offered, just “omakase” where the choice was to be left to him to keep feeding us until one side gave in.

The quality both in ingredient and execution was apparent from the first plate of sashimi, one of tuna and another of Kampachi (amber jack) and the following small dish of uni (sea urchin) coating a “noodle” made of shreds of squid, but it was the sushi that Sybil was really looking forward to.

Unlike so many places I have visited, where too much cold rice is used to bulk out smaller portions of fish, here the small and correct amount of rice was warm and infused with the perfect amount of vinegar. The texture was correct too, so the fish could be removed and dipped in soy sauce if instructed and replaced on the rice before transferring to mouth by hand or chopstick as preferred.

Few pieces needed added soy as many had received a dressing before serving and the quality of the toro (fatty tuna) was some of the best I have encountered with only a small amount of gari (pickled ginger) needed to clean the mouth before the next offering. If I had one criticism, and I usually do, I would have liked more of the sushi to have been served clean and without dressing so that the exemplary quality of the fish had chance to shine, but this is a minor weakness in an otherwise major experience and the fishy space dust pop of plump salmon roe in a small roll alone would make me forgive any other failings

By the time we had finished our last bite of a blue crab roll (picture of Sybil eating it removed to protect those of a nervous disposition) we had racked up a bill of $165, a lot to pay, but still worth it for sushi of a quality that we could only dream of in London (I will leave the people of New York to state their own case)

So, the people of L.A may well bore the backside off you talking about sushi but, based on the one experience in this neighbourhood “joint” they probably have good reason too.

You have been warned

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I never thought about it before, but I think you're right. I guess it's like when you know you have a great pub, pizzeria, or patisserie and its your local. In LA and OC, it's sushi.

+ It's hard to dispute when you've got Japanese businessmen over on their tour of duties harping about the quality and selection of fresh fish available ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:19:00 pm  

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