Once upon a long time ago – back in November – I chanced upon a reservation to Sushi Nakazawa through a wonderful friend. I decided to take Dessert Zombie for his birthday because I’m an amazing friend, and he’s been really good to me over the years.
The place is very austere and hushed… love the small touches. I actually took notes so I have a very good idea of what each fish is, but understand this was back in November and your experience/actual fish may vary. I’m not going to bother with individual impressions of each piece of fish.
Salmon: hay smoked coho on the left; lemon & salt on the right
Sea scallop with yuzu sake; scored squid with shiso
Sheepshead with yuzu; trigger fish with liver; ?
Horse mackerel; pike mackerel
Pacific white shrimp; spot prawn
Japanese yellowtail; Spanish mackerel; bonito
Two cuts of bluefin tuna: lean and fatty
Soy marinated king salmon roe and sea urchin
Tamago and anago (freshwater eel)
Overall, the fish was all very fresh and dinner moved quickly from plate to plate. Of course, omakase – now that I’ve done sushi omakase at both the counter (my general preference for dining in general, actually) and at a table – loses much when you’re at a table, lacking the direct interaction with the chef as he prepares your fish. But a reservation at Nakazawa is hard enough to attain, much less one at the bar – and I am forever grateful to Annie for making this happen. Thanks again, Annie!
There were a few standouts for fish though – the bonito was meltingly tender when my first experience with the fish raw (almost 10 years ago now) was just the opposite. The trigger fish with its own liver? Wow. Things you might not expect to work, but just do. Love. Careful thought goes into each piece of fish, and it shows.
As for the cost, since that is definitely a factor for most people (aside from being able to even get a reservation): DZ ordered the premium sake pairing ($80), so it was a little more than what you might pay if you opt not to drink, or choose to get the basic sake pairing ($40). The pours were very generous, and there were definitely glasses he couldn’t finish. Some were excellent pairings (he graciously allowed me to sip some of his), and others were not to my liking, but again, a lot of thought went into each choice for each plate.
The final cost? This marks the most I have ever spent on any meal – including the one where Chef Morimoto himself cooked for us (2006) – at $420, including tax and a generous tip. (In fairness, at Morimoto, I only paid for myself — this was DZ’s birthday gift, so I paid for everything.)
You ask: was it worth it? Well, I don’t recommend everyone drop everything and rush over there. I thought everything was excellent – to our service, the freshness of the fish, the thought that goes into each piece of sushi and sake pairing. You have to ask yourself the hard question: will I enjoy this irrespective of price? If the answer is yes, then you should definitely make a point to visit. Personally, the only way I’ll return is if I can sit at the bar and interact with the chef directly – but that’s not a ding on the restaurant or service whatsoever, as this experience taught me that I only want to have sushi omakase served at the bar anyway.
There wasn’t a single piece of fish I didn’t enjoy. Any sushi lover would certainly feel similarly – even about the fishes they don’t normally enjoy. Chef coaxed so much nuanced flavor out of each piece…