Location: 395 Santa Monica Place Santa Monica, CA 90401 T: 424.214.5130
Date: July 15, 2011
Cuisine: Modern Japanese / Sushi
I’ve been slowly working my way through the new Santa Monica Place Mall dining scene. Which surprisingly, isn’t bad. Not brilliant either, but not bad. They’ve populated the mall with six or so small chain corporate places (restaurant groups of 2-4 restaurants each). These are never quite as good as sole (and chef owned) establishments, but they are better than big chains — barf! So far I’ve reviewed Xino, Zengo, and La Sandia. Now it’s time for the Japanese, Ozumo.
With multiple parts and a real sushi bar.
The dinner menu can be found here.
We ordered this decent (but not exactly on the level of this) cold sake. They did have a lot of expensive sakes on the menu, so some of them might be amazing.
“Kinoko Miso Soup. Nameko, shiitake and enoki mushrooms in a rustic Koji miso soup with negi.” A nice miso variant. I liked all the mushroom action.
“Hanabi. Slices of hamachi and avocado drizzled with a warm ginger and jalapeño ponzu sauce.” This is their interpretation of the classic Nobu dish. Everyone has it now. This version was a tad overdone, throwing in a few more elements and disguising the fish. But at the same time it was tasty and nothing clashed.
“Special heirloom tomato salad.”
Toro sashimi. I’m trying to low carb it so I’ve been doing more sashimi. This was good toro, but it reinforced my conclusion that this Rolls Royce of fish does better as sushi than as sashimi. Somehow it’s fat content needs the rice as a foil.
“Yiya Yakko. Chilled silken tofu, fresh ginger, negi and tamari shoyu.”
Here are the traditional sauces. The tofu itself was perfect. And truth is this is exactly how I’ve gotten it in Japan. The problem is that the straight up soy sauce is a little bland for the tofu. This is a flaw in the classic dish, not the restaurant. The deadly hot Korean version I had recently at Moko was tastier — and vastly more nose shattering.
Some various sashimi. Salmon, scallop, albacore. This was all good, although not ‘amazing,’ I’d say 8/10 on the fish meter.
“Yamabuki. Fresh uni, shimeji and shiitake mushrooms in a healthy Genmai brown rice risotto.” This made me suspend my “low carbing” for a dish. I would have liked more uni (sea urchin) as there are only two tiny pieces. The risotto itself was very good. It tasted more “healthy” and brown rice than a classic Italian version, which would have been slightly yummier. But it did have great texture, particularly with the mushrooms. Overall a very pleasant dish.
Here is the other bar, which is ‘first come first serve.’ These mall places are huge though, and as of yet there is no problem getting into any of them even at prime time.
They even have some cool outside seating, although not as nice as Xino or Zengo’s patios which are fantastic.
Overall, Ozumo is good. I’d probably rate it 7/10. The food was quite good. The service, like all the mall places, needs some work. I think they hire too many young inexperienced servers. The food’s not as good as many of LA’s other top sushi joints, but it’s solid (remember I’m a serious sushi snob), and considerably better (and cheaper) than over trendified mediocre fish joints like Katsuya Brentwood or Sushi Roku. As far as the mall goes, it’s in the league with Xino and Zengo, and certainly better than La Sandia.