Sushi Zo Omakase

inside sushi zo
inside sushi zo

Does the high-end sushi omakase market in NY seem a bit crowded to you? Shuko, Yasuda, Nakazawa, Neta, O Ya…and now there’s a new one to add to the list. Sushi Zo, a highly acclaimed LA based restaurant that tops all the best of lists in that city, seems confident that it has something new to offer with its $200 a head omakase. Chef Masa made the move on behalf of the LA team to run the east coast franchise, which is curiously located on the scrappy streets of Greenwich Village. The space has the standard minimalist look and feel of a serious sushi restaurant run by a control freak chef, but Masa-san is not one of those martinets who demand that you eat something in a particular way. He seems a lot more Americanized than most sushi chefs and hence engages comfortably with his customers like a peer, which makes for a relaxed atmosphere. No tense exchanges for mistakenly dipping your fish in soy sauce or not using your fingers.

tuna from north carolina, yellow jack mackerel, horse mackerel and red snapper with yuzu pepper
tuna from north carolina, yellow jack mackerel, horse mackerel and red snapper with yuzu pepper
halibut from long island
halibut from long island
spanish mackerel from long island with ponzu sauce
spanish mackerel from long island with ponzu sauce
amberjack from japan
amberjack from japan
flame grilled sea perch from japan
flame grilled sea perch from japan
sea bream with roasted shishito pepper
sea bream with roasted shishito pepper
medium fatty blue fin tuna from north carolina
medium fatty blue fin tuna from north carolina
scallop from hokkaido
scallop from hokkaido
monk fish liver from maine with ponzu sauce
monk fish liver from maine with ponzu sauce
chawanmushi
chawanmushi
black sea bass from long island
black sea bass from long island
uni from hokkaido
uni from hokkaido
salmon roe from alaska
salmon roe from alaska
white clam from washington state
white clam from washington state
live shrimp from japan
live shrimp from japan
anago sea eel from japan
anago sea eel from japan
sea urchin from maine hand roll
sea urchin from maine hand roll
tamago
tamago
clear soup
clear soup

In my opinion, what makes Sushi Zo different from other places is its technique of pre-seasoning its sushi with sauces beyond the typical soy, as well as a local approach to sourcing its fish. A lot of the fish was from Long Island or North Carolina, which I found to be very interesting, as other restaurants seem to fly in everything from Japan. And the quality of these domestic fish was very good and made me rethink the whole Japan is better mentality when it comes to raw fish.

I’m usually on the fence when it comes to pre-marinated sushi, especially when they get a little non traditional with the ponzu and the yuzu, because shouldn’t the fish be good on its own? But the sea bream with roasted shishito peppers convinced me otherwise. It’s definitely ok to dress up your fish a little bit. And I’m always a stickler for a great anago, a creamier and flakier eel than its fishier, freshwater counterpart unagi. I first had anago at Nakamura in Tokyo, and the one at Sushi Zo was just as dreamy.

By the end of the meal, I was completely stuffed and felt like I was suffering from gout. There were a lot of pieces in the omakase, but at the same time, it cost $200 a person, so you should be getting the whole sea at that price point. It’s hard being the new kid in town, especially one that’s full of more established sushi restaurants. I’m not quite sure if Sushi Zo’s style is distinctive enough or significantly better than the competition’s to consistently draw business its way, but Masa-san and his staff definitely deserve a closer look.


Sushi Zo
88 W. 3rd St (between Sullivan and Thompson St)
New York, NY 10012
(646) 405-4826