Zama Restaurant Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square

I remember a couple weeks ago on Twitter @ProfilePr shot this dolphin outline and teased her followers with “guess where I am?” Well it piqued my interest, but @iPhillyChitChat was unable to guess correctly. When you stepped into Zama you are immediately transformed to a Zen oasis with it’s simple design and peaceful atmosphere. At the helm is Chef-owner Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka is a veteran of Pod, Morimoto, and Genji at the Ritz Carlton.I loved the stenciling of the ceiling with the aquatics, and the walls designed with a chopstick like covering. It’s bright and airy, exactly the opposite of the former occupant Loie. The tables are made to look like a brushed maple or pine, the chairs unadorned.
The food is the main attraction here, which is probably why they used acrylic chopsticks, my dinner companion & BFF Deming told me. The acrylic allows the food to retain it’s full flavor as opposed to soaking into the wood. Deming, and I have known each other since high school, but unfortunately as PhillyChitChat, and he as the architectural IT engineer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, don’t get to see each other as much as possible. Zama was the perfect place to catch up, although it was crowded, we were easily able to hear each others conversation as the wall covering allowed the absorption of sound so it wasn’t a distraction.Deming who is a serious food connoisseur explained some of the highlights of the menu to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love sushi and Asian food, but I am used to grabbing a 8 combo to-go at the corner market and I wanted an expert opinion.
In the front of the house is the Sushi Bar. It’s here where they prepare Hand Rolls Three Ways, spicy tuna, salmon avocado & yellow tail jalapeno with soy papers. $15; or U Love Veggie $18; Tuna California Roll $18; Sizzled Whitefish $16; (There is an A La Carte menu with prices mostly in the $3.50 range, but a couple are priced $4.50 – the scallop whole at $10)
Root Vegetables, Seasonable Mushroom, Fried Noodles
Deming had the Lob-Temp $17, which was out of this world siting on a bed of teriyaki-truffle. I can’t wait to go back and get it myself.
I had the Bullish ($24), which is seared Kobe on top of sesame soy wrapped sushi rice with spicy ponzu. Color me silly because I thought I should order something other than sushi to show that there are items a non-sushi person could order in case sushi wasn’t there thing, or their thing that night. I should have looked to the entree section and I would have noticed the
Black Cod Saikyoyaki $24, Pan-Seared Fish $27, the Organic Teriyaki Salmon, Bone in Pork Chop $24, chicken or the Aged NY Strip $32. By the way, my Bullish was delicious. The Kobe steak was juicy and tender. It was an interesting combination to have it rolled with rice.
There is a sampler on the menu, several combinations, more items and desert. The bill for two, with 2 glasses of wine, apps, entree & dessert was just a little over $100. The atmosphere wonderful, the company priceless. So grab a special someone, a friend or a couple and head over to the newest sushi spot Zama at 128 South 19th Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-4646
(215) 568-1027
Check out these sites for more info on Zama: Michael Klein’s The Insider, UWISHUNU and an extensive look just written 12/21/09 at FOOBOOZ