Restaurant Review: Zame Fusion Sushi

Bryan Tuttle/HIGHLANDER

A common question asked around the Riverside area is, “Where is the Japanese food?” Yes, there are a few all-you-can-eat buffets within driving distance, but for authentic sushi lovers there hasn’t been an adequate or good restaurant until now. Zame Sushi, which opened less than a month ago, serves fresh fish that is as authentic as the sushi restaurants found in Japan. It was almost unbelievable at first to find that sushi this delicious had come to Riverside.

Zame Sushi has a sophisticated and modern red and black design, and the environment inside is both tranquil and chic. As I scanned the menu, I found that the fusion options were just as impressive. There were a wide array of eclectic dishes, such as honey walnut shrimp, (which is borrowed from Chinese cuisine) and “Gaeng Garee” (Golden curry from Malaysian cuisine). There were also dishes with a Japanese twist, such as filet mignon served with a diakon yuzu sauce, and grilled Chilean sea bass cooked in miso dressing. The menu was also surprisingly versatile, catering to the preferences of vegetarians or customers who like sushi but did not like it served raw. Most importantly, the restaurant was authentic, featuring the signature dish pork tonkatsu, which is breaded pork loin served with sweet Japanese fruit sauce.

The most stunning, in terms of both flavor and appearance, were the signature rolls. The passion shrimp roll is composed of shrimp, avocado and cucumber topped with smoked salmon and a spicy mango sauce. Some rolls were wrapped in soy paper, which is a fusion of Vietnamese cuisine, blessing the roll with a light, chewy and delightful texture. The most popular roll at Zame Sushi is the baked volcanic mango shrimp, which was presented in a beautiful flower-like setup. It composed of a generous concoction of teriyaki and Sriracha sauce drizzled upon the plate, and sprinkled with crunchy tempura flakes, Brussels sprouts and green onions.

It is a comfort and a cause for celebration to witness a Japanese restaurant that holds itself to such high standards. Not only were the mixture of fish, fruit, vegetables, sauces and spices in perfect harmony, but the fish was also absolutely heavenly. Good fish, which Zame Sushi serves, is buttery, tender and bears a melt-in-your-mouth sensation. It is never clammy, stale or in desperate need of being drenched in other sauces and ingredients. Even the vegetables and rice, which are the rising action to the fish, were indulgently fresh and mouthwatering. Other restaurants may attract customers because of their all-you-can-eat deals; but in reality they are serving fish that is lower in quality and cheaper to buy, which is why heavy sauces always overwhelm them. At Zame sushi, sashimi alone is flawless because only the best parts of the freshest fish are served.

Jay Bai, the owner of Zame Sushi and a sushi chef of 20 years, said that his goal was to give customers good tasting food. In order to do so, Bai purchases expensive materials, such as his knives that cost around $500 each. His dedication does not stop there, in a week he is flying to China and returning with real Chinese bamboo to furnish his restaurant properly.

The overall experience was wonderful: attentive staff caters to every need and the contemporary dishware is made of eccentric black ceramic. Zame Sushi is definitely an impressive place to take a date to. The average price for a signature roll is $12 and for dessert, a deep fried banana served with ice cream is just $4. If authentic Japanese food fans are craving something special, Zame Sushi is the new up and coming restaurant that undoubtedly will blow them all away.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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