Warning: This is a scathing review and I rant quite a bit.
Sushi By Kazu, a restaurant in Central NJ, is yet another case where the mighty Zagat proves totally unreliable. This restaurant received a 28 in food -- basically meaning that I should have had a near perfect meal there.
My friend and I drove about an hour and a half on a "pilgrimage" of sorts to check out this place. In hindsight, it was one of the biggest dining mistakes of my life!
Everything about the sushi was horrible! What follows is a description of the meal i had.
We entered the place to see basically a mob of people. The wait was still relatively reasonable at 15 minutes. There wasn't much to the setting, looked like your standard dive of a sushi bar. There were probably about a dozen seats at the sushi bar, and about 8 tables along the walls. We were given menus and proceeded to make our selections.
Having never been to this place, I simply wanted to order a variety of sushi. This was best accomplished through getting the 12 piece sushi special platter - the most expensive thing on the menu. I normally get omakase or chef's choice at places i know better. In hindsight, I do not believe that this place had anything resembling an omakase - no one in the place had unusual items on their plate from what i could tell.
Anyways, about 20 minutes later, we received our sushi. The platter i received contained all the usual suspects - tuna, salmon, eel, whitefish, mackerel, cooked shrimp, squid etc. Nothing remotely exotic. The freshness of the fish was sub-par, with a number of items being slimy, fishy, or chewy -- and no where near the quality of even the average sushi joint.
Okay, so that's fine - maybe for whatever reason, my friend and I came on the wrong day and the fish was terrible for whatever reason (I somehow thing that this is how it is regularly though). This still doesn't excuse the rice.
The rice was absolutely horrible. A total disaster. One of the keys to good sushi is having perfectly seasoned rice that is well proportioned, well compacted (not too loose or too tight) and in balance with the fish. The sushi rice we had was in these huge globules of tightly compressed (like a solid mass of rice, where individual grains were lost) rice that was underseasoned. Additionally, the sushi chef had a very heavy hand in the wasabi, and even if i had wanted to taste the fish, i wouldn't have been able to.
So in summary, the fish lacked freshness and variety. The rice lacked proper consistency, proportion, and balance with the fish.
Which brings me back to Zagat. In my humble opinion, a 28 should be reserved for only the best sushi joints - i.e. karuma zushi, sushi yasuda, sushi of gari, etc. It should be a near perfect meal.
Even if rated by sushi novices, i'm not sure how this place could be considered a near perfect meal. The wasabi alone i'd think would be enough to turn away at least half the customers (we all know people who can't handle that wasabi).
On it's best day, Sushi By Kazu deserves a 15. Yet more proof why Zagat Sucks. If i am missing something about this restaurant, please let me know. I simply don't get it.