September 20, 2021

I was glad to secure a last minute reservation here. Having watched the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi a few years ago, enjoying omakase from Jiro's apprentice was sure to be an outstanding experience.

This was also a great contrast to my recent visit to Sushi Zo. On paper, they are identical in every way except price. Sushi Nakazawa is a very reasonable $150 compared to Sushi Zo's $220 price tag. And Nakazawa comes with a Michelin star.

The experiences could not be different.

Sushi Nakazawa feels very refined. Very "Michelin". The maitre'd greets you warmly in hushed tones. Waiters are in black and glide around the room silently. The service here was outstanding. I could find no fault. They were attentive without being overbearing, helpful and ever-present. 

For example, when I picked up the first piece of sushi with my left hand, the sushi chef quietly moved the wet towel (to keep your fingers clean) from the right side of my plate to the left side. Impressive that he would catch something so subtle.

The fish itself was exquisite. I typically don't take photos of each piece (who wants to look at that?), but these were so beautiful, I did. You can see them below.

For my first few bites, I kept thinking that this sushi was more subtle and refined than Sushi Zo (which knocked you off your chair a bit with flavor). But as the meal went on, I found that subtlety turned a bit monotonous. No bite separated itself from the previous one. The temperatures and flavor profiles were all so similar. Outstanding, but subdued.

There were other things I didn't prefer. The rice was excellent, but not as good as Zo's. There was more rice here, which competed with (and detracted from) the fish. There was more wasabi too, which I felt also distracted from the fish. Note the uni dish and how much wasabi they placed on top. It was certainly unwelcome and seemed wrong to me. Finally, every piece was delivered the same (as nigiri), whereas Zo had nigiri and sashimi intermixed. I wish I was more educated to know which experience is more authentic. 

Don't get me wrong, Sushi Nakazawa is an outstanding experience. And well worth the $150 price tag. The food is stellar. The service was top notch. The Riesling I ordered was the best I ever had.

But no moment made me groan in delight at the flavor in my mouth. Not even the toro.

I'll return to Sushi Zo, for sure. Nakazawa is not a place I feel the need to return to.

 

 

 

Caviar, gold leaf (add-on)
The setting. The towel on the left was moved to that side when the chef saw me pick up my first piece of sushi with my left hand.
King salmon (New Zealand)
Hokkaido scallop
Japanese squid
Crab, miso, saffron
Tiger prawn
Japanese grouper, yuzu zest
Golden eye snapper, lemon juice, sea salt
Fluke (northern Canada)
Spanish Mackerel (North Carolina)
Striped Jack (Japan)
Kampachi (Amberjack) (Japan)
Long tail tuna (Japan)
Bluefin tuna
Toro (medium fatty tuna)
Belly tuna (fatty tuna)
Uni box with uni from (left to right) South Hokkaido (favorite by far), Maine and North Hokkaido. (Add-on)
Hiding under the lettuce was some yummy caviar
Rishiri sea urchin (island northwest of Hokkaido). The very best you can get in the US. 3rd best uni in the famed Tsukiji market.
A5 Wagyu (add-on)
Tuna hand roll
Saltwater eel
Tamayaki (egg cake)
Green tea
Japanese creme brulee

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