For years I've wanted to go to Ozumo, a restaurant my friend R always refers to as a place for people that are more into pretty nice places than great Japanese food.
There is some truth to that statement, but Ozumo is such a pretty pretty place.
The bar is sexy, modern, and tres trendy. When they put the paper bar menus over lit candles on the bar counter, you know they have put some thought to make the whole place look super-cool.
As you can guess, Ozumo is also very expensive. They have the most extensive sake menu I have ever seen, and many are available by (shot) glasses. While I tried to avoid the most expensive sakes, the total bill for two still rose to more than $300.
Our server was nice for sure, but she seemed a bit inexperienced and confused at times. You would expect a place like this would hire someone more professional.
Let's talk about the food. The lobster and beef tartare, called the chef's signature dish, was almost divine if not for the fact that the chopped beef chunks were constantly emitting a bit of that unpleasant raw smell you would get at a butcher's. I think this dish would benefit from a carpaccio treatment.
The omakase sashimi (we offered $50) was excellent, along with a few otoro slices, but there was no exotic stuff like amaebi or uni. How can you not offer uni when it's in season from Santa Barbara?! I understand Ozumo must be trying to play safe with the crowd.
The mini-sukiyaki was tiny for its $20+ price tag. Taste-wise it was all right, but either they didn't give us the Kobe-style beef as stated on the menu, or they overcooked the thinly-sliced beef. I thought Kobe-style beef should be ultra-tender and well-marbled.
On the other hand, the Niman Ranch lamb chops were excellent, marinaded and cooked just right.
Other dishes like the tempura crab salad were great as well.
Ozumo is a place that will impress. Beautiful views to go along with that fancy decor and dishware, but Michael Bauer is right in stating that the upholstery is a bit worn and unsightly. Imaginative and expensive food that usually tastes great.
Final grade: A-