Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zen Toro

Japanese food is one of my favorites. Sashimi in particular. And the great thing about sashimi is that you get all the fish and none of the carbs. Let's be honest: sushi rice just takes away from the fresh fish you should be enjoying anyways, right?

Sashimi was the last thing I was expecting to be blown away by in the Davis food scene. Davis just doesn't ring a bell when I think of good sushi. And then I went to Zen Toro.

While Zen Toro isn't the absolute best sashimi I've ever had, my isolated, no-frills experience with them made me appreciate their restrained creativity and the high quality of their seafood.

My friend, Kevin, and I went to Zen Toro and shared a few different items.

The first thing we got was the House Made Special Gyoza. These gyoza looked deceptively normal. With my first bite, however, I was hooked. I was shocked by how crispy the sides were, and the filling was unreal.

The filling is packed with pork, veggies, garlic, and chives, with no single ingredient overpowering the rest. The filling was also incredibly juicy. The side sauce was unnecessary because the gyoza was so good on its own.

Kevin got the Tuna Sashimi, which came with a small set of tempura. The tuna was bright, fresh, and soft. These slices of tuna were just thick enough, and I constantly wondered how this place got a hold of such fresh fish for such a reasonable price. The tempura was lightly fried, crispy, and perfect to complement the raw tuna.

I got the Yakizakana Saba, which is basically a grilled mackerel. This fish was also ridiculously fresh and the meat itself was juicy and succulent. The char was perfect and the crisp added just the right amount of texture to the fish. The piece of fish was also surprisingly large for its price.

At this point, Kevin and I were both looking to get more food. I was so impressed with the seafood that I had no qualms with ordering their daily special and some more sashimi.

The Oyster Royal Miyagi from B.C. Canada was beautiful. I was a little disappointed that the oyster wasn't served on its own without garnishes. In the end, however, I loved how the sweet roe, the citric lemon, the sparky chives, and the spicy pepper worked on the oyster. The freshness and brininess of the oyster lent itself really well to meld with the other flavors. So addictive.

The last thing we got was an order of their Hamachi Sashimi. The sashimi glistened in the light and was big enough to cover my entire tongue, which instantly filled my mouth with the flavor of hamachi. Hamachi is my favorite type of sashimi, and this was definitely up there. I didn't need put any soy sauce on the sashimi because of its pure taste.

Overall, my experience at Zen Toro was surprisingly great. The service was unstoppable, the flavors were simple and fresh, and the gyoza was probably some of the best I've ever eaten. If you happen to find yourself attending UC Davis, don't be surprised if you become a regular at this place.

Zen Toro
132 E Street
Suite 100
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 753-0154

GET: Hamachi Sashimi; Daily Oyster Special; House Made Special Gyoza.

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