Today is: Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ozumo Restaurant Review

Tucked away in the heart of the new Santa Monica Place, the famous and just reopened shopping center in the neighborhood of Santa Monica, you will find Ozumo Restaurant. Offering one of the best Japanese cuisine and with an extensive sushi selection. Corporate Chef Michael Yakura prepares a superb variety of Japanese specialties that are truly spectacular. When you enter Ozumo, you will find yourself
in a hyperactive cultural experience so enthralling that you can not forget you are in
an authentic Japanese restaurant. Ozumo is without any doubt the best Japanese restaurant in the Santa Monica area. It does everything well, including tempura,
sushi, sashimi, grilled items, signature small plates and robata grill.


As my guest and I arrive at Ozumo in the evening on this particular Saturday, there was a crowd already waiting outside. I was happy to have done my reservation earlier. The Japanese décor is cozy, intimately gorgeous, including their modern dining room and its ambiance. I am instantly overcome with a sense of comfort and serenity and the tangy aromas that were already opening our appetite. The first thing you
notice is their grand bar in front with a fancy sake bar that is popular after work.
The overall feel of the comfortable dining room is peaceful. I can’t help but
feel a sense of joy as I realize that Ozumo has already gained much
support and love from the entire community.

The service, starting from the hostess and our waiter was perfect. In the kitchen behind us, I noticed that sharp-dressed folks preparing their sublime sushi dishes
were completing the overall serene feeling. After being seated at a table at the far
end of the dining room, we were instantly hit with appetizing aromas coming from
the kitchen. After a quick glance at the menu I first notice the wide selection of appetizer dishes. Our server was very helpful in guiding us on what to order. With
a more thorough investigation of the menu I realized the difficulty in choosing our meal selections. There was wide array of sushi, agemono which is basically based on
food served as tempura, Ippin Ryori; Ozumo’s signature small plates, Yasai;
grilled food, and a large Robata Grill menu. We decided to start our
meal with a glass of red wine and a glass of champagne making
this a refreshing start to our anticipated meal.


I am still pondering my dinner menu when our server arrives with a delicious Miso soup, followed by their garlic Edamame that was very special due to the flavor of garlic and miso. I also was surprized by their signature Ozumo Caesar salad. This salad was offered as a starter to our meal. With my chopsticks in hand, I carefully
pick up a fresh piece of a romaine heart with a white anchovies and a piece of
Jidori egg. The silky texture melts slowly in my mouth, while the tartness
of the dressing that bathes the crisp greens excites my taste buds. It is
both sweet and tangy, adding a level of excitement to the salad.
Before I know it I have cleaned the plate and find
 myself eager to move on to our next dishes.

From the Agemono menu, we decided on the Tempura Ebi with Tiger Prawns fried in delicate tempura batter. I take a perfectly fried, golden-brown piece of prawn, dip it into the tangy dipping sauce and then take a bite. The crunchy coolness of the
tempura batter brings a depth of exotic flavor. From their sashimi menu, called
Aburi Sushi, which is described as “lightly seared” sushi, we got 6 different
varieties of sashimis to taste: Seared Maguro, Seared Hamachi, Toro
Tartar, Seared Sake, Seared Saba, and Gindara Gunkan. All of these
were delicious and the presentation again, superb and very fresh.


From the Sushi Rolls menu, we tasted the Ozumo roll; with lobster, tuna, mango and jalapeno wrapped in soy paper, wit chive, cilantro and yuzu aioli and the Skiwake
roll, another success with spicy tuna roll, with hamachi, salmon, tobiko, avocado
and tempura flakes. Next, as an entrees from the Robata Grill we decide to taste
the Gindara; with black cod marinated in saiky miso and sake kasu. The fish is
lightly sautéed with lemongrass, shallots, and garlic, it was to die for! As I
devoured one of the jumbo pieces of succulent cod I instantly pick up slight
hints of the lemongrass and garlic that make for a pleasurable balance of flavor.

Next the Yaki Kuruma Ebi; a grilled giant lobster, with yuzu, garlic and olive oil, I
pick up another piece of perfectly pink lobster and scoop it through the fluffy
sauce, the result is a heavenly combination and, with the occasional cool
crunch of the fresh lobster that gives the dish a well rounded texture.

One of Chef Michael Yakura’s most popular dishes, the Hotate; a pan seared
scallops with ankimo and English pea puree. As I take my first bite, I am pleasantly surprised to discover that the texture and taste is truly a piece of art. It is a tender, juicy bite of “scallops” that with each additional bite I enjoy the rich and
complex flavors and find myself longing for more as I clear my plate.


For the last entrée we order from the Niku menu the Ryogoku Gyu; a dry-aged
New York steak from Snake Siver Farms, with shishito peppers, matcha salt and
daikon-ponzu. This is an amazing dish for meat lovers that have a very generous
portion of the delicious New York steak that had a perfect silky texture.

To our surprise, Chef Yakura sends out an unforgettable selection of their delicious
dessert menu; the Matcha Tiramisu with green tea lady fingers soaked in matcha,
brandy and layered with mascarpone cream, a Sake & Pineapple Financier, warm pineapple cake with sake vanilla sauce and a generous scoop of green tea ice cream.
Also we tried the Choco-chan; a bitter sweet chocolate cake with green tea ice
cream and homade mochi. The floral notes in the creamy green ice cream cleanse
my palate, and signals that my eating adventure has finally come to an end.


The restaurant’s sophistication takes a charming and unique detour, however, as I
retreat to the restroom, something is slightly off-kilter. It takes a moment of repose
before I realize that I’m hearing a Japanese-English language lesson on tape. A
myriad of details combine to give Ozumo this vivid personality.

Suddenly I noticed there were customers lined up behind the restaurant eagerly
waiting for a table and I finally understand why. With a satisfied stomach we
got up to go home, but not before we were happy to be introduced to
the talented Chef Michael Yakura for this spectacular dinner
that was truly an experience to be remembered.

For map and location click Here!

For more information please visit their website at

Article By: Mary Adams
Photos By: Mary Adams

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