Kaizuka is a recent addition to the slowly burgeoning Culver City dining scene. It is located in the "Washington Building," and is sandwiched in between Santa Maria BBQ Company and Bistro de l'Hermitage, a configuration that offers dithering diners many more options than in the past.
In any event, we were curious to see if a good sushi restaurant had set up shop near us, and I am pleased to report that this is in fact a worthwhile addition.
We walked in a around 6:15 PM on a Saturday evening --no more than 4 of the 15 or so tables were occupied and there were two diners at the small sushi bar. We received the standard raucous hello from the two sushi chefs and were immediately seated at a table by our smiling server.
She suggested a fairly expensive ($21) sake to us, but we were not at all disappointed in our selection: Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo, with clean dry flavors, and a wonderful accompaniment to the appetizers and sushi we were planning to order. They were out of yellowtail collar, the miso marinated black cod took 15 minutes to prepare, so we chose the sunomono salad and the chicken dumplings.
We really liked the salad: it was a sizable pile of very fresh and freshly sliced cucumbers in a delicate vinegar -- friends who had been here before had felt the salad was tasteless, but we really enjoyed the pure flavors. I would have liked a few more sesame seeds, but no real complaints.
The chicken dumplings were fine, and not at all what we were expecting: four baked squares stuffed with chicken with a spicy may liberally drizzled on top. It looked a bit like a quesadilla in fact. We loved the crunchy baked skins, but the chicken was somewhat flavorless. It was very filling, and we chose to leave one dumpling to save room for the sushi.
ON to the sushi: you order via checklist, and our server recommended the fatty tuna, the red snapper and the spanish mackerel. We took her up on the snapper ($5), and additionally ordered salmon ($4.50), maguro ($5), hamachi ($5), albacore($4.50), sweet shrimp ($6.50)and a yellowtail and scallion roll with soy paper instead of seaweed ($6.50). All of the fish was excellent, with the standouts being the snapper, the salmon and the shrimp. Yellowtail is always good practically anywhere you go, and it was here as well.
Service was good throughout. We received pre-packaged wet towels, water with lemon on request, and while the timing of some dishes was a bit jumbled, there were no significant delays. We got the fried shrimp heads a bit later, but I enjoyed mine -- a good amount of meat in there.
Dessert included green tea ice cream, vanilla ice cream, an apple tart tatin and a couple others. We chose the apple tart which came with a scoop of vanilla -- I doubt the desserts are house made, but this was certainly a serviceable apple tart, the ice cream was rich and had good vanilla flavor, and it was a satisfying ending to a very satisfying meal.
Total bill including 20% tip was $100.