Ozumo at Santa Monica Place is cool and elegant. The decor is
dark soothing. The long space envelops you like sudoku. Behind the sushi bar is Toshio Sakamaki rolling sushi like I’ve never tasted or seen. Fish flown in from Japan. Dangerously thin peels of daikon and cucumber in place of nori. Soy paper. Caviar. And best of all? Truly bite-sized. See this master sushi chef in action and get a glimpse of the delicious creations and chic ambiance that await you at Ozumo… watch The Wizard of Ozumo!
I was lucky enough to attend the Grand Opening of Ozumo at Santa Monica Place. After a traditional Japanese blessing of the restaurant with its stakeholders, and a deluge of photo ops, the party-going crowd eagerly entered the new space.
And with a welcoming committee like this, who can feel out-of-place? By the way, that’s Byamba, world champion sumo wrestler turned successful Hollywood actor. That’s a version of the American Dream you don’t hear very often. In case you didn’t notice, he’s really strong… and sweet :)
And though we were steeped in ancient Japanese culture outside, inside it was time to raise the roof!
Rows of busy sushi chefs can only mean one thing…
Sushi and sake dance off serving trays directly into watering mouths. Many comment on how cute the bite-sized pieces of sushi are. Bigger isn’t always better ;)
Ozumo is featured on the roof top dining deck at the newly renovated and newly reopened Santa Monica Place. Originally designed in 1980 by renowned architect, Frank Gehry, the green redesign opens the space up to take advantage of the beautiful Santa Monica skyline and weather.
After a super fun night, and quite possibly too much fun, I was escorted out. Well, not really. But never tell a sumo wrestler you don’t think he can pick you up. That’s like telling Adam Richman you don’t think he can eat the whole sandwich.
The next day, for the official Grand Reopening of Santa Monica Place, I met up with the wizard, Toshio Sakamaki, Executive Sushi Chef of Ozumo Santa Monica. A transplant from the renowned Ozumo San Francisco, Chef Toshio was sharpening his knives when we arrived. He was ready to roll, and we were rolling!
You have to watch The Wizard of Ozumo to see Toshio’s knife skills first hand. The way he carves Daikon radish into paper thin sheets for rolling sushi is mind-boggling. The first roll is peeled daikon, soy paper, tuna, house-pickled daikon and celery with yuzu mayo and a sweet and spicy sesame sauce. The next roll showcases the same knife skills that give Lay’s potato chips a run for their money. Thinly peeled cucumber and nori with asparagus and shrimp rolled inside, topped with Ponzu sauce and caviar. Yum, the crunch of the daikon and cucumber with the perfect balance of sauces and fresh, fresh fish… honestly, sushi doesn’t get better than this.
If I wasn’t impressed enough, next up is shikai maki, or decoration sushi roll. With rice, nori and tamagoyaki, Toshio explains that this roll looks like Japanese old money. Tasty, tasty old money :) Watch the video to see how he does it!
Finally, the flower arrangement sushi roll with nori, rice, tuna and cucumber. I’d rather have a bouquet of these sushi flowers over roses any day. Delicious!
A big sumo-sized thanks to Toshio Sakamaki, Executive Sushi Chef at Ozumo Santa Monica for the fun interview, amazing sushi rolling demo and all of the tasty bite-sized sushi creations. Special thanks to General Manager, Gina Langer, E.C. Gladstone, and Sarah Waldman for putting Average Betty on the A-List.
I have always admired the knife skills of sushi chefs. They’re so inventive and skilled. Some of these dishes almost look too pretty to eat.
OK, almost. How about too pretty to inhale?
Love your post. Thanks for sharing!
Average Betty says
Hey Phil! Toshio is amazing. I’ve never seen knife skills like his first hand… we’ll have to inhale some sushi together sometime soon! Thanks for droppin’ by :)
Priscilla - She's Cookin' says
hahaha Great post and what a fun grand opening to be able to attend! I’ll have to check it out when I venture up Santa Monica way.
Average Betty says
Thanks, Priscilla :) Definitely check it out! they have a lot more than sushi. Robata too. Mmm…
Carolyn Jung says
Beautiful looking sushi. I bet it tasted even better, too. Yum!