Posted August 13, 2013on:
Not to be mistaken for the similarly named Kozasa Sushi over in the Ginza district, Kozasa is another one of those small and unassuming sushi-yas, hidden away in a crowded maze of streets and alleys behind trendy Shibuya.
It’s actually located at the first floor of a tiny apartment complex, just behind the small carpark upfront. If not for their bright signage, I would have probably missed it as well.
Deeper inside, the actual entrance of Kozasa.
It is a simple and austere setting, only 10 seats and a long L-shaped counter.
A little griller at the back which the chef uses for a lot of dishes.
The chef of Kozasa didn’t speak any English at all so I didn’t even know his name, but he was quite a nice guy, very friendly and always cheerful.
I know some of these high-end sushi “temples” have chefs that are quite strict and serious but I was glad Kozasa’s chef was the opposite.
As it turned out, Kozasa was also a one-man show. The chef did pretty much everything by himself, and there were only 2 waitresses to clear and wash the dishes.
All the food preparation was done by the chef himself and it was actually interesting to watch him juggle the preparations for all 10 people.
The omakase dinner at Kozasa started with several courses of otsumami (appetisers).
Otoro and mirugai sashimi (very fatty tuna belly & geoduck)
Something’s grilling at the back.
Turns out to be slices of aburi tai (sea bream), grilled expertly such that only the surface is seared while the rest of the slice is still raw. Accompanied with a dash of soy & ponzu sauce.
The chef preparing the next dish; he really was quite deft with those long chopsticks.
Mixing chunks of kuruma ebi (tiger prawn) with wasabi and soy sauce.
I requested mine to be without wasabi so it came plain. As you can see, only the outside of the prawn was cooked while the inside was still raw, giving a contrast in texture and taste.
Next up, one massive piece of awabi (abalone)!
I was really quite surprised by the size of it, and how generous he was with the slices.
2 thick slices of awabi and a small chunk of awabi kimo (liver). Very soft and tender, much like the one I had at Shuhaku but I think with better and stronger flavour.
With the heads of the prawns he used to make the earlier dish, the chef skewered them and into the kitchen to grill them.
And then he came back with these pieces of grilled unagi. They were pretty much the same ones I had at Zeniya, perhaps less crispy and not so much salt & pepper seasoning – but still damn good!
And last of the otsumami, the grilled prawn head from before. With that, the otsumami course is over and the sushi course begins.
Now the chef works hard at cutting out the various slices of neta (topping) for the sushi.
This is pretty much to get everyone at the counter in sync for the sushi.
Some of them were also for later patrons, so in a sense it pays to come early.
His gari (pickled ginger) was also quite delicious. The typically sharp ginger taste was much milder, which made it much more palatable to me.
He also chops it up in a rough dice and this actually gives the gari a better crunch texture when eating, and a more “juicy” feeling.
Here’s the chef preparing the aburi tai dish from some people who just came in at a later time.
A bowl of fish soup while we all waited for the sushi.
And the sushi course started with a lovely piece of otoro.
No you’re not seeing double – he served yet another piece of otoro! Bliss!
A rather large and crunchy piece of akagai (ark shell). Couldn’t even see the rice!
Preparing some maguro.
A glistening ruby-red piece of maguro-zuke (marinated tuna). Much firmer texture and strong flavours from the marinade.
Shako (mantis shrimp). Still not a big fan of how dry this is; I’d rather have a prawn or something else.
For those who came in much later, the shako ended up as part of their otsumami course.
The chef really doesn’t fix his omakase in any way, even the awabi I had earlier as otsumami became one of their sushi courses.
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Preparing the final sushi dish.
This is usually the way most sushi courses end, with anago (conger eel). Most of the time you just get the one in nitsume style but something you get in 2 styles like I did at Sushi Saito.
Anago shio (salted).
Anago nitsume (sweet eel sauce).
Kampyo maki (gourd roll).
Tamago yaki (omelette). This felt more like an omelette cake, much like the one I had at Shinji.
And that was the end of an extremely satisfying dinner at Kozasa! While not quite a secret Michelin starred sushi-ya, I still found the variation of dishes and the quality of the ingredients at Kozasa to be very excellent. Not forgetting the calming zen interior and cheerful chef!