Saturday, May 20, 2006


Last night Michael and I dined at Ozumo. I’ve had good meals at the hip SOMA Japanese restaurant before, but last night was exceptional.

We arrived at Ozumo at 8:30, and as one would expect on a Friday, it was quite crowded. Fortunately there was room at the sushi bar in the main dining room, and for the next 2 ½ hours we were treated to wonderful fish and delightful sake. My thanks to Jessica for letting us sample so many sakes and Hiroto (pictured) for his artistry.

We began the meal with a bottle of an amazing nama sake, the Tedorigawa “Arabashiri.” Tedorigawa is one of Japan’s oldest brewers and they make sake using the most traditional techniques. The result is beautiful: light, sweet, smooth, clean, silky, floral and effervescent are all descriptors that come to mind. It is a blockbuster and reason enough to visit Ozumo while they still have stock. Later in the evening we also drank the Genshu nama from Dewazakura and an old stanby, the Denshu. But, the Tedorigawa stole the show.

To match our wonderful sake we began with a sashimi sampler that included Maguro, Hirame, Hamachi, Sake and then Kona Kanpachi, Toro and salmon belly. Both the Kona Kanpachi and salmon belly are unusual, and the Toro was perfectly marbled.

From there we ordered nigiri. Each was wonderful but highlights include the Umi Masu (an ocean trout unlike anything I have tried before), the Amaebi (so sweet and delicious) and the Anago (beautifully concentrated flavor). The Shima Aji was also wonderful last night, and both salmon and Hamachi approached best-ever status. As good as the Maguro, the Shiro Maguro, the Hotate and Albacore were, they were esclipsed by the other offerings. We also ordered a half dozen Kumamoto Oysters and Hiroto made us a salad of crab, salmon and salmon roe in appreciation for the sake we were sharing.

Dinner was not inexpensive, but a day later I’m still marveling at how good it was. I like Ozumo, but previous meals were never that good. I can only conclude that sitting at the sushi bar made a big difference, and I can’t wait to return to test my theory.

Ozumo: 161 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA (415) 882-1333