Sushi from Chef Yoshizumi

Outside Sushi Yoshizumi

The way to Hubster’s heart has always been through his tummy, so for his birthday, I decided to take him out to Sushi Yoshizumi which is not an easy reservation to get. After a lot of pre-planning, alarms and even last minute texts, we were all set for our Saturday night dinner out without kids.

More often that not, authentic Japanese restaurants tend to be very low key. It’s probably a cultural thing, but the decor tends to be very minimal and the general ambiance very unassuming.  Considering the lack of signage outside of Sushi Yoshizumi, it is readily apparent that the restaurant is going to exude the sensibilities of a real Japanese sushi chef, Akira Yoshizumi.  Inside the restaurant is very little aside from a 9 person sushi bar behind which stands the one and only Chef Yoshizumi preparing and serving the sushi for all the diners. He does have one sous chef helping with the appetizers that complemented the nigiri, but it is easy to see why only 18 people are privileged enough to enjoy a meal each night.

Chef Yoshi and his Sous Chef

The standard Omakase menu (for $125) includes 6 otumami, 12 nigiri, owan and sweets following the edomae style which essentially refers to the traditional way of sushi preparation dating back to early 19th century Tokyo.  For an upcharge of about $50, you can get the extended menu which needs to be ordered 2 weeks in advance.  (I actually heard that prices have or will be going up because Tsukiji Market prices have gone up.)  I didn’t have the chance to put that order in, but we were completely satisfied by the end.  We spied on the some of the dishes from the extended menu that the couple next to us ordered and it did look tempting but it wasn’t terribly different.  For example, there was a bigger serving of uni that was prepared differently and there was a real crab hand roll.

Overall, the dinner was excellent, definitely deserving of its newly minted Michelin star.  I would have to say that the otumami dishes were the surprising highlight of the meal, not that the sushi wasn’t good. It was equally delicious, but arguably you could find comparably excellent sushi at other places.  The otumami dishes started the meal and really put us in a happy place by the time the nigiri started rolling over the sushi bar.  The fish is flown in daily from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo which ends up lending a lot of credibility with most sushi lovers.  The simplicity in each piece of fish, served on a small-sized ball of well-seasoned sushi rice,  belied an unbelievable amount of technique from the Chef resulting in a pure “sit and enjoy whatever is in front of you” experience.

Seaweed Salad

This was more salad than seaweed as it was mixed with some small cherry tomatoes and okra and served in a soy based dressing. It was light and refreshing.

Squid Salad with White Miso

This was so tasty.  The squid was tender and the white miso dressing was creamy and added a rich umami-ness to the dish.

Smoked Bonito

The bonito was marinaded in soy and topped with some miso mustard and green onion, but it was the smokiness that I really loved. It gave such depth to the fish.

Chawanmushi

This was definitely one of the most interesting takes on chawanmushi.  It was a lot less eggy and more gelatinous, like a thick but clear broth with seaweed and small chunks of crab meat. It was delicious!

Ankimo and Tako

It is fun how much I abhor and simultaneously enjoy liver.  I think most liver has an awful aftertaste that I can’t seem to swallow, but things such as duck pate and monkfish liver, also known as ankimo, make me salivate.  The placement of ankimo alongside tako (octopus) is unique and works wonderfully well given the subtle contrast in textures and flavors.  I ate this one up and wanted more.

Next up starts the progression of nigiri which was all really delicious.  I have come to truly appreciate and even expect that no sushi chef is worth his weight in gold unless he can place a sushi on my plate where I don’t have to do any additional wasabi or soy sauce and that’s exactly what we had here.

Japanese Flounder

 

Wild King Salmon

 

Hokkaido Scallop

Sweet and delicious!

Hamachi

 

Aji

The more I eat horse mackerel, the more I understand how much technique is needed on top of buying high quality, fresh fish.  This was not fishy in the slightest and definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.

Bluefin Tuna

Very solid considering that tuna is never my favorite.

O-Toro

It is hard to go wrong with fatty tuna, and I don’t think any sushi meal could be complete without one piece.

Japanese Sardine

This was an interesting one as I don’t recall ever having sardine as sushi.  Surprisingly, there was a very mild fishiness to it that made it a lot more interesting than offensive.

Nogoguro

This is also known as rosey sea bass, but I really enjoyed the torched preparation. There was a nice smokiness that complemented a very juicy tasting piece of fish.

Uni and Ikura

This was fantastic!  I couldn’t help but think of my brother when I saw this as uni and salmon roe are 2 things he always orders just for himself.  The creamy richness of the uni alongside the briny juiciness of the roe made for a powerful yet delicious tasting combination.

Anago

I’m not sure why you don’t find anago (saltwater eel) as often as you do unagi (fresh water eel), but I personally like the more subtle taste of the anago. Maybe because it is rarer, but I like the more natural sweetness in taste and the softer consistency of the anago.

Tamago

The tamago definitely seemed a lot more like an egg cake with its subtle sweetness and slightly spongey texture.  I usually find this to be a waste of a piece of sushi, but I actually enjoyed it. Somewhat reminescent of the tamago I had at Sushi Nakazawa.

Miso Soup

As per the true Japanese way, we ended the omakase menu with a bowl of very hot and satisfying miso soup.

At this point, Chef Akiko asked us if we wanted anything else, and since I had spied this from one of my neighbors, I was curious to give it a try. It was delicious but I admittedly was expecting a little bit more.

Green Tea Creme Brulee

We ended the meal finally with a Green Tea Creme Brulee which was not overpoweringly sweet.

Posing with Chef Yoshi

Overall, the artful presentation and execution of the otumami dishes were amazingly memorable and really complemented the delicious and expertly prepared sushi.  It is definitely worthy of its Michelin star and it’s nice to see it’s located in the suburbs as opposed to the city.  It makes for a relatively easier night out.

Sushi Yoshizumi
325 E 4th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94401

PAFO Ratings for Sushi Yoshizumi:
Price $$$½
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4½ stars
Overall rating 4½ stars

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