The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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It isn't often that someone comes up with a completely new concept in the centuries-old restaurant business, but it does happen. Here's a smashing new format that already boasts four loca- tions coast to coast. The most surprising thing about this exciting idea is that it sprang out of the tradition-bound world of Japanese sushi. Kazunori Nozawa is the gruff, authoritarian "sushi Nazi" whose tiny restaurant in Studio City, California, became a cult fixture after it opened in 1987 and remained one until it closed in 2012. He was responsible for introducing "trust me" omakase—a multi-course sushi meal orchestrated by the chef that discour- ages input from the customer. Sushi Nozawa became famous for the strict rules that gov- erned those who ate there: no loud talking, no mobile phones, no texting, no photography and no choices. Those who refused to respect these rules were likely to find themselves out on the sidewalk in front of the place, having been expelled by the chef. Since his retirement, Nozawa seems to have mellowed. With a group of partners he opened Sugarfish, a less-expensive "sushi lite" concept that has 11 branches in southern California and one in New York. The stroke of genius—the brilliant new idea—came next. It's called Kazunori. It's a hand-roll bar. There are now three in Los Angeles and one in New York. Sit at the bar and order the three, four, five or six hand-roll set menu. My favorite is the five-roll selection: toro, bay scallops, yellowtail, crab and lobster. The rolls are brought to you individually, as they are made. The seaweed is crisp, the rice is warm and the ingredients are super fresh. The price for this menu: $23, and the tip is included. And in contrast to Nozawa's usual crusty demeanor, the attractive young staff is friendly and accommodating. This successful new concept is proof that there is something new under the sun and that there are still fertile and original ideas out there. You just have to come up with one. Anthony Dias Blue Something New Under the Sun LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 4  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2017

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