Sushi Yoshizumi - OOE Omakase

I’m pretty sure this “ohagi” is an homage to Sushi Sho. “Ohagi” is the name of a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet) using azuki beans whose mashed texture renders (very loosely) similar look to this piece of sushi (or I should say it’s the other way around). If one orders “ohagi” at a different sushi restaurant, the chef may not understand, as the name is not that traditional (to my understanding). “Ohagi,” like Nakazawa-san’s ankimo with narazuke (pickled gourd/baby watermelon in the style of Nara), is pretty unique.

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Seasonal delights in full bloom. OOE “Extended” + a few extra (highlights in bold):

otsumami:

  • shirako (cod milt)

  • matsukawa karei (flounder) sashimi with engawa (fin)

  • modorigatsuo no warayaki (“returning” bonito tuna, smoked over hay)

  • nama ikura over rice (fresh, from Japan - short season September - December-ish)

  • shiro amadai sakamushi (sake steamed tilefish)

  • saba bozushi (the f’ing business)

  • botanebi with uni sauce, xiaoxing wine, and shiso flowers (sweet shrimp with sea urchin & Chinese wine)

  • seikogani chawanmushi (female snow crab with roe over steamed egg custard)

  • ankimo (marinated monkfish liver)

  • mozuku (chilled, vinegared seaweed shot)

nigiri:

  • Himi kanburi (winter mature yellowtail from Himi, ultra rare)
  • kawahagi w/ kimo (trigger fish with its liver packed underneath)
  • aji (horse mackerel)
  • sawara (“kingfish”)
  • akamizuke (marinated lean tuna)
  • sumi ika (“ink” squid)
  • kinmedai (golden eye snapper, lightly seared with tare sauce)
  • kohada (gizzard shad)
  • kotoro (special fatty tuna)
  • kurumaebi (tiger prawn)
  • bafun uni gunkanmaki (“horse shit” sea urchin “battleship” roll)
  • tairagai (pen shell clam)
  • negitoro temaki (fatty tuna and green onion handroll)
  • anago with nitsume sauce (saltwater eel with broiled tare sauce)
  • owan (clear soup)

encores

  • engawa (as nigiri)
  • Himi kanburi toro, double-layer
  • kinmedai
  • modorigatsuo (as nigiri)

the bozushi, kawahagi, aji, kohada, and layered Himi kanburi toro were all awesome. as usual, the kurumaebi, akamizuke, and smoked katsuo were top notch standbys.

on the shortlist for best in California.

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pics??

Had a similar menu last night with a few deductions and some slight changes

Madai shirako were ridiculously plump and creamy smooth.

Matsukawa Karei’s fat content was higher than I’ve had before, very very good

Katsuo had a notable layer of fat under the skin added so much to the overall experience, and ridiculously aromatic

Nama ikura was great and his shari recipe is vastly improving. A good balance of sour with aroma and a lot of umami, and at the right temperature and the combination of it with the eggy sacs and the freshness was amazing.

Saba of course was killer, when you went it was probably Aomori, but now it’s Iwate prefecture (a bit sweeter and more fat, but controlled via marination and other techniques applied).

My kawahagi liver piece was as large/thick like a soft cream cheese… that it couldn’t be packed underneath and had to be placed on top. It must have been forced fed some good stuff, or maybe the fish was a chowhounder and did a quite a few under the sea izakaya bang bangs before being caught and got its liver engorged. Fan-filefishing-tastic.

His karasumi is medium firm and almost soft candy like chew in the center and moist. It is not the typical miso marinated version in Tokyo. Fantastic.

Aji is still being sourced from Izumi (Kyushu prefecture), and the kohada is from Amakusa (within the same region of but off the coast of Japan) which I’ve enjoyed several of their specimens in Tokyo in September. But the preparation here is far superior!

The kotoro is excellent, it’s a firmer mouthfeel that is otherwise similar to hagashi toro and possibly the cut was around that area.

The uni was from Nemuro (Hokkaido) smaller sized specimens but wonderfully sweet and delicate (yet quite flavorful). All this Instagram talk about people raving about Higashizawa or Hadate uni, basically chasing after brand names like nobody’s business…while these brands are delicious in their own right having tried both, I sported a bigger smile having the Nemuro uni from Sushi Yoshizumi in a gunkan maki using some of the most aromatic and crispiest seaweed vs those two brands in Tokyo. While we are at it, wild bluefin from Aomori prefecture, whether it was Oma or Minmaya, really had nothing on the bluefin from Sushi Yoshizumi (who does not use and does not source Aomori bluefin). I think only one place I had Oma bluefin in Tokyo that I particularly enjoyed, but that was an outlier. Same goes for kurumaebi at Sushi Yoshizumi, vs at least 3 places in Tokyo. Could be that is the style over there (especially pre cooked kurumaebi, and only one place nailed precooked but did a lot of work to make it taste awesome), but it didn’t work for me.

Kinmedai is from Chiba prefecture, so much fat and the texture of the skin reflects the additional work that was put in, along with the smokey aroma and preparation that went into it.

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That looked so good!
Sadly, my experiences at Yoshizumi’s counter were far from good. One of the worst things I’ve ever put in my mouth was their chowan mushi with some sort of grey fish chunks in the bottom.
Maybe they’ve improved.

In well over 50 visits, I’ve never had anything mediocre there, let alone bad. Maybe your tastebuds were off on that day?

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Holy cow look at that rice. You can tell from sight alone how perfectly prepared and composed it is. Need to get me to the bay.

I’ve noticed some improvement in the starting dishes since the start and recently, have only had great meals from top to bottom. The nigiri has always been strong, though. I’ve enjoyed my visits but once did have a chawanmushi that wasn’t at the same level as the rest of the meal - nothing bad, though. I think if you returned there’s a high chance that you’d have a great meal. I can’t wait to return.

Sushi geek is that you?

:wave:

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welcome

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Thanks.

I have made a reservation to give him another try.

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Back again for one final dinner this month.

The shari is now at god level mode, and officially so. It’s better than many sushi restaurants in Tokyo (at least the ones I’ve been to). Perfect temperature, right amount of stickiness, balanced sour/salt, umami, and aroma that come together as one and great matches with the sushi/neta. If you do not understand this profile, you will not enjoy and appreciate the meal overall or as much, and you won’t feel that we are so lucky and blessed to have someone of this level here in California/USA.

Nothing new this time, but just everything incredibly satisfying and high quality. Even more so when you pair the right beverage with it.

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Agreed! :slight_smile:

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Which is?

TWENTY-NINE dishes???

Purely subjective but through numerous visits and having had the opportunity to taste various profiles with the food:

  • certain profiles of champagne work very nicely with his appetizers/otsumami but it has to be at least a brut. An ultra brut works even better (Laurent Perrier for example has a very nicely built ultra brut). Some rose brut are fun as well, but LP’s was quite spot on.

  • Alsace Riesling, maybe Grand Cru. Dryness is key but you could be looking at a more limited range of a more exact match (e.g. perhaps certain shellfish), and perfectly fine with otsumami/appetizers.

  • sake: this is by far the best match and the only way to go for me. Go for the house sake pairing, or pick something fuller bodied with structure from the menu. Midorikawa Junmai which is the lowest priced bottle, has plenty of umami, complexity, good acidity and dryness that works nicely throughout but is not a profile that everyone might get (but when you do it is so satisfying). He has a new exclusive sake Hitakami Yasuke Junmai Ginjo that was built by the brewery exclusively for sushi that might be more approachable but is equally excellent. Generally, most Junmai and Junmai Ginjo sake will work fine there, and surprisingly the really heavy duty punchers designed more for izakaya work as well if not better there. The sake pairing will include pours from the two sake I mentioned, and people can also order them by the glass or carafe. I do highly recommend the Hitakami, having had it at least 3 times (and brought over here from Japan to enjoy) as well as a bottle direct from the restaurant. I personally feel that the enjoyment level of this Hitakami will not be the same at other restaurants, as they do not built their food well enough to enhance the sake drinking experience (and vice versa). I know of wine drinkers who have had Hitakami and they loved it too.

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i concur, not even close.

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Thanks! Very helpful.

I had the Yoshi omakase last night. One of my top five sushi meals. In the other four (Shunji in LA, Sasaki in SF, Sasaki’s previous place, and long-gone Sebo in SF) the dishes were at an overall more consistent level but Yoshizumi’s highs were higher. The barracuda, nodoguru, fatty tuna nigiri, and squid were fabulous. The botan-ebi with uni was amazing and the flavors lingered so long that I could still taste them after the ankimo.

I’ve never had pickled ginger like his. It’s very salty and vinegary, little or no sugar, really clears the palate.

sashimi / appetizers

  • seared kamasu (barracuda) with caviar
  • kegani (Hokkaido horsehair crab)
  • bonito (not seared)
  • chawan mushi with shirako
  • saba bo sushi
  • botan-ebi with uni
  • ankimo
  • grilled mehikari
  • shot of liquified seaweed salad

nigiri (with pickled ginger)

  • kawahagi topped with liver
  • sawara (Spanish mackerel)
  • aji (horse mackerel)
  • nodoguro
  • bluefin tuna
  • otoro (fatty tuna)
  • ika (squid)
  • kuruma (Japanese tiger prawn)
  • kohada (gizzard shad) with kelp
  • uni (Hokkaido)
  • hotate (Japanese scallop)
  • otoro hand roll
  • anago (salt-water eel)

etc.

  • seaweed soup
  • tamago yaki
  • sake bavarian with sake jelly

sakes

  • Hitakame Yasuke junmai ginjo
  • Kiminoi “Emperor’s Well” junmai ginjo
  • Ten To Chi “Heaven & Earth” junmai daiginjo
  • Midori-Kawa junmai
  • Gasanryu-Kisaragi daiginjo

No misses or real complaints. I thought the shirako could have used a little something extra and one of the cold nigiri might have been better warm. The bluefin was boring in context. If I go again I’ll just get a bottle of the Hitakame.

With an extra glass of Hitakame, service charge, and tax it came to just short of $500.

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