[Sunnyvale, CA] Saizo

Here’s a report of a recent dinner at Saizo, the Japanese restaurant on El Camino in Sunnyvale.

Sunomono $21. Wonderfully tart, sweet and salty vinaigrette that added lots of oomph to the cucumber and whelk. I’d probably prefer a different texture of shellfish than whelk, however.

Kamo tataki $21. I’d come back just for this dish. The highlight of the meal. Duck breast seared perfectly medium rare and dipped in a savory ponzu sauce. Tender and full of flavor.

Iwashi $11: Oregon sardines are moist.

Ika ichiyaboshi $15.5: Grilled semi-dried Hokkaido squid. Not as dried as a himono. A bit tough in texture.

Satoimo $8.5. Taro balls in a sweet broth. OK.

Onigiri: ume/ ikura/ buta miso $3-$3.5 each.

Gingered soy sauce. I like this soy sauce a lot, which is not very salty, and has an edge from the ginger and a little smokiness.

Annoying menu without prices for most of the dishes I ordered. It seems like the menu has altered quite a bit versus the prior ones from years ago in my hazy memory and items that I remember eating are no longer on the menu.

Total with a soda before tax is $90 for an adult and a 2 year old. Over-ordered a bit. One adult can probably get out the door at $60-70 with less food.

Restaurant was completely empty when I showed up for my in-hindsight-unnecessary reservation at opening time on a Saturday (6pm). I hadn’t eaten there for probably 8 years and I remember the restaurant was crowded. I wonder why. My speculation is that while my meal has some highlights, it needs to be more frequently good to more easily justify the price. One can argue that reaching almost 3 figures (albeit with some over-ordering and the presence of a 2 year old) the cooking should be more refined. After all, places like Wakuriya is $98 for a kaiseki meal. Service from the server was indifferent at best, likely partially due to language barrier. The female chef was warm and helpful with description when she checked on me.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold