Monday, January 17, 2011


Over a year has passed since this Rittenhouse sushi spot opened to much fanfare.  Although I'm arriving late to the scene, I'm pleased to report that Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka, formerly of Pod, Morimoto, and Genji, is still delivering fun, high-end sushi in a sleek-but-social atmosphere.

Slightly less publicized, but equally pleasing as the sushi, is Zama's extensive drink menu.  I started with a yuzu gimlet, which featured yuzu juice, citrus vodka, and simple syrup, a great blend that highlighted the yuzu flavor (one of my favorites).  Of course, warm house sake hits the spot on a cold night.  But interestingly, Zama offers warm sake after-dinner drinks.  I indulged in the ginger version -- warm sake with ginger liqueur.

After starting with the seaweed salad, which featured an unusual mix of the "usual" seaweed with more lettuce- and radish-like varieties, we moved onto the roll menu.  I opted for the "Bronzizzle," Zama's "cucumber and avocado inside out roll with Bronzino finished with yuzu-soy sauce and hot sesame oil."  Surprisingly refreshing, the roll hit the high notes of a crispness mixed with a sharper flavor.  I was most interested, however, in trying the "super crunchy" maki, pictured below.
I was expecting tempura flakes, but instead got this interested rice puff exterior, which was indeed crunchy.  Unfortunately, it was also spicy, which I was hoping to avoid as Zama offers both spicy and crunchy, but the rice puffs balanced out the spice.  Certainly a change of pace.

Zama picks up on the dessert sampler scene (a favorite of mine at Continental, which offers $3 dessert "bites"), where you can choose three desserts for $10.  The hazelnut bread pudding was warm and heavenly, as was the sake soaked pear upside down cake.  Combined with the warm ginger liqueur sake, the experience was a perfect antidote to a cold winter night.

Zama is located at 128 S. 19th Street, Philadelphia,  First photo with thanks to

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