WINNER!!!! of the most rude and arrogant restaurant award!!!! I've been lucky enough to dine at most of the top sushi places in LA, NYC, SF, Honolulu and some great places in Tokyo. After over 35 years of having the pleasure of eating at various sushi bars, I might not be an expert, but I can hold my own.
O.K. I've read the numerous accolades of this sushi bar. I've also read the numerous reviews of how rude Keizo can be. I find it interesting that patrons also try to make excuses for him by calling it his own brand of humor. Now, how incredible does a restaurant have to be in order to justify being rude and arrogant and still believe the customer will return? Is heavenly enough? Is very good enough? It is obvious that Sushi Zo believes that their customers are ignorant (and probably stupid) diners that know nothing about sushi hence the constant comment of no soy sauce. After a couple of times, it gets annoying to say the least. BTW, on a Saturday night at 8PM, 3 tables are open and the sushi bar is 2/3 emptyl.
Especially in this time of economic recession, let alone, at any other time, IMHO, the restaurant business is a service business. Yes, there is a large creative component and yes, the customer is not always right. However, for me, there is no excuse for rude and arrogant behavior.
Sushi Zo is supposedly the best sushi bar in LA besides Urusawa. To even compare it in the same breath as Urusawa is a joke. With Keizo, Kazoo and the helper in the front, it was strictly a production line. I found it better than the new Sasabune which is also a production line and slightly better than Hide. Maybe on par with Hump, and not as good as Nakamura and not nearly as good as Mori. Forget about comparing it to Urusawa or the late Ginza Sushiko. Not a chance!!
In my first and only visit to Sushi Zo, I dined alone at the sushi bar having the mandatory omakase. I found a number of misses as well as a number of very good dishes. Definitely the combo uni & toro sushi was a big miss. Scraps of frozen toro combined with scraps of uni. Not too good. For a place that supposedly prides itself on authenticity -- just read the Sushi Etiquette sign at the bar (NO KIDDING!!), pushing scraps of toro seems not too authentic. Anyone that has worked or been near a sushi bar knows that the tartare or handrolls are where the restaurant puts the scraps. I thought the orange clam and the spanish mackerel were quite good and were the highlight of the evening. The toro nigiri sushi had much too much sauce (there was definitely no reason to tell me to not put soy sauce). The salmon was non-descript as was the unagi. The hot chunks of monk liver was not good and the sardines were so-so at best.
Anyhow, to my point, at the end of the meal on this Saturday night, I commented that there was no scallops or no ono or pompano. So, I asked what days were the best in terms of selection of fish? The immediate response from Keizo was that every day was the best and if I did not like it, don't come. I was shocked to say the least, especially after racking up a $145 tab all by myself.
I've heard people complain about how arrogant French restaurants can be and that can be true. Having lived in Paris, I can comfortably say that Sushi Zo is by far the most arrogant and rude.
If you were treated like this, would you go back? Would you recommend it to your friends?
I think not.
Now, who do you complain to? Keizo the owner? I wish I could find out who the financial backers, if any.
Now, to all you Sushi Zo lovers -- before you rush to his defense, donate a $1 to your favorite charity. That will be much more worthwhile than defending Keizo. I really don't think he needs defending, just much fewer customers and a large serving of humble pie.