U-Zen – West LA

U-Zen - West LA
What I Ordered

Review By: Elizabeth Kenner

Los Angeles is a gold mine if you are a sushi lover. There is no city in the U.S. that offers delicious Japanese cuisine the way LA does and U-Zen is no exception. Typically I go to places with a bit of ambiance such as Katsuya or Katana, but they require deep pockets, whereas U-Zen is a fraction of the price and what they lack in trendy ambiance, they make up for in taste.

I found my way here by the recommendation of a friend who swears by this place. He specifically advised me to sit at the sushi bar by chef Masa, who is a master of Japanese Kaiseki cuisine and brings more than 20 years of talent to U-Zen. And boy do those years shine when you taste the food he puts in front of you.

They offer a happy hour from 8pm-close, which is nice as most restaurants have unusual happy hours when most people are still at work or not ready for dinner. Their happy hour menu is small, but offers favorites, and from my understanding will be an expanding menu due to popular demand.

First up was a favorite of mine that I order at every sushi place I go to: Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice. Masa did not disappoint! Unlike other places, the spicy tuna is topped with a slice of avocado and a bit of caviar and served next to a bite sized portion of crispy rice rather than on top. I’m a tough critic when it comes to this dish and I can confidently say this is the best I’ve ever had. The crispy rice was cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of crunch, and a whole lot of flavor. When combined together, get ready to immerse yourself in sushi heaven.

The Salmon and Albacore Sushi were both top shelf and had the kind of “melt in your mouth” quality that sushi lovers pine for.

The real test for me at sushi restaurants is to taste the eel. I’m not a fan of eel unless it is good… really, really good. I went ahead and ordered an Eel Avocado roll and again, Masa delivered with perfection. Eight pieces of sushi with just the right amount of eel sauce drizzled on top, and voilà, an exquisite combination of delectable flavors and texture.

On top of it all, Masa was a pleasure to talk to and despite U-Zen’s plain appearance, it offers far better sushi than most places in LA. There were four of us dining and our bill was around $40, whereas for the same amount of food/drinks at the higher end places would have easily surpassed $200. I highly recommend U-Zen to sushi lovers and newbies alike!

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