Right after I had made my umpteeth post raving about Sushi Zo and how reasonably-priced it is, I had my first somewhat disappointing experience there on Saturday night. I went with a friend who had never been there before. Turns out that Keizo and my friend are on a first name basis, from when Keizo was at Hide. My friend had been asking for him after he left but not surprisingly, nobody at Hide would fill him in.
We both ordered the omakase. They didn’t ask what size and we didn’t specify, although we should have, because the bill for Saturday night’s “regular” omakase was about $70 each (pretax and tip, omakase only, drinks not included… I think it was $69, to be exact), compared to the $45.50 “small” omakase I had a few weeks ago. This is how they compared, and all are one piece unless noted differently:
Both omakases had the following: hamachi, albacore, red snapper, black snapper, toro, salmon, yellow-striped jack, sweet shrimp, scallop and a blue crab hand roll.
The “small” omakase had a kumamoto oyster, five pieces of steamed monkfish liver, pompano, butterfish, anago, shirako and skipjack.
The “regular” omakase had 3 pieces of amber jack sashimi, 2 pieces of bluefin tuna nigiri, mackerel, halibut (I don't remember if it was one or two), giant clam, another bluefin tuna and a big-eye tuna.
After recovering from the sticker shock, paying the bill (an even $100 per person after the drink, tax and generous tip) and leaving, my friend and I talked about how it was a great dinner but so much more expensive than either one of us thought. It was about 40% more than the small omakase and over three times more than my first visit to Sushi Zo, when I went a la carte but left feeling full. Saturday night neither one of us was exactly stuffed, either. It was a shame to leave there anything but elated, as I’ve done after every previous visit.
In comparing the two I would have to say that the small omakase was about the same size, I was more full after the small omakase, the small omakase had slightly better pieces (esp. considering the relatively rare shirako). I’m trying to figure out why Saturday’s tab was so much higher for about the same size and not-as-great selection omakase. I’ve concluded that the bill on the small omakase was a mistake. Or that if you indicate that you don’t want and/or can’t afford the “regular” one they’ll charge you less for basically the same dinner. Or maybe the bluefin is much more expensive. Or they'll cut you breaks until you become a regular. Or if you’re a woman dining alone. Or maybe he figured my friend could afford more (though we ended up going dutch.) I have no idea, it could be anything.
Regardless, I’m still a Zo fan, but from now on I’m either going to order a la carte or specify the small omakase and readily admit that I can’t afford the “regular” one. Hopefully Saturday was the last time I drop three digits there.