I just came from Sushi-zo where I had a nice lunch omakase. This place is on National in Culver City just north of the 10 underpass, next to TAco Plus.
I hadn't heard of or read about his place, but it is in my hood and judging by the sign above the counter that read "omkase- no california roll/cut roll", it seemed like my kind of place.
The omakase started with a dissapointing dish of Kanpachi sashimi (3 pieces) with yuzu kosho (yuzu pepper). I'm not a huge yuzu kosho on sushi fan, as I generally find it overpowers the fish. Sadly, this was the case. The Kanpachi itself was also not so flavorful or fresh tasting...perhaps that's why they used the yuzu koshoo.
This poor start worried me, but the first piece of sushi, chuu toro, assuaged my fears. The chuutoro was quite nice, fresh and flavorful. The shari (sushi rice) is warm(which is fine by me), and they use only a small amount of shari(which I like). The toro was followed by a terrific hamachi (hamachi no harami/belly). Really the best hamachi I've had of late. Other hits included aji, shima-aji, iwashi, kindmedai and scallop). shime saba, and hirame were okay.
There were a few nigiri that I'd never had or seen before. ONe was ono, called Sagoshi in Japanese, apparently. This was lightly grilled (aburi), and was absoulutely delcious. I've never seen this here or in Japan....although I have seen ono sashimi in Hawaii.
There was also a grilled aburi tara (Black cod in English?) which was also very tasty. However, it came with a teaspoon sized dab of vinegar/miso sauce which I found overpowering (chotto gehin na kanji). This could easily be remedied by scraping off most of the sauce.
I had the same problem with the mirugai, which was served with a shiso leaf underneath. I just don't understand this combination, as mirugai is so sweet and subtle. I don't see how it could not be overpowered by the powerful shiso flavor.
The quality of the fish here is great, and the simple, traditional stuff was all very good. The ankimo was fantastic and is blanched on the spot...as oppossed to many places that use a pre-cooked (processed?) tube of ankimo. It's only $2.40 too.
It is clear that the itamae is putting a lot of care and effort into his work. However, I did find the overpowering flavor combinations in the tara and mirugai to be disturbing. I'm not sure if this is just a way of trying to appeal to American customers. I have never had this problem in Japan before. I know some people call this "creative" but to me it just does not compute. .Admittedly, I am a snobby sushi traditionalist, but I'm happy to eat fusion pieces as long as the sauce and flavor combinations don't overpower the FISH.
All in all, this was very good stuff, and the best omakase I've had in the past few months (recent trips include Jinpachi(pretty good), 4 on 6 in Encino(pretty good) and Nozawa( inexplicably poor, traditional but bad...kaitenzushi quality fish).
This was a 70$ omakase lunch after tip. Okay, pricey...but...you can order pieces individually and I think if you were to take care, you could eat for about $40. I'll definitely go back, but probably not for omakase....