Zokku, a japanese sushi restaurant and bar, has taken over the old hong king lum establishment on the 400 block of J st in sacramento.
Perhaps it is the opening jitters, but there was as many misses as there were hits, and frankly, some shortcomings.
First the nice things: they've done a very nice job decorating the place; good spacing on the seating, sushi bar in one part of the restaurant, oval bar in the midddle. I can see it easily becoming a happy hour - after hours spot. In fact, for the opening, they have limited 1/2 price specials on certain drinks and sushi during happy hour. Might be the best way for folks to try it for themselves.
The food preparation: definitely mixed bag. The seafood combo lunch entree for $12 was a hit, with its mild coconut curry base and mixed seafood (shrimp, scallop, mussels, squid). the sashimi mix was a miss, 3 pieces each of ahi tuna, salmon and himachi (yellowtail) for $14, which includes a very bland miso soup and a bowl of rice. The fish was fresh enough, only mildly flavorful. Worse, the hamachi slices were so thin, you think they were serving carparcio. The rolls were passable, nothing superb, and seem to bulid off the same sauces. the best of the mundane was the rokkin shrimp ($9.50) , a roll of tempura shrimp topped with advocado, tobiko, and a spicy sauce. The Stop, Drop roll ($10.50) with spicy tuna, cucumber and asparagas, with the same spicy sauce, came off disjointed. And it was hard to find the lobster on the crazy lobster roll ($14.50) -- for all i knew, it was tempura shrimp and not lobster, though i am sure they did not switch. Just a commentary on how the flavors seem to get lost or buried in the sauces or mix.
Wine list: this is definitely a bring your own bottle place because their selections are absolutely horrid. Kendell Jackson vintner's reserve anyone? Maybe they wanted to keep it affordable. Anyway, corkage is $10 or $12, depending on what menu you are looking at.
Sake anyone? They have warm and they have cold sho shiku bai. They have ginjo but no daiginjo, and definitely, no junmai daiginjo. worse, you have absolutely no idea how much a bottle or glass is, and worse, i doubt if they know what they have and don't have, quality wise. You just order it and wait to see how much it is on the bill. They have a very very modest selection of sake -- better to bring your own and be assured of the quality if you love sake.
Service was friendly, but spotty.
Fine japanese dining this is not. Fine sushi, this is not. But for a happy hour place with 50% off certain rolls and drinks, it might find a niche. i know they want to make this into a night spot,and i can see that possibility, but with the sad fact for now, that the mixed drinks and atmosphere will be more attractive than the food.