Three Bells For Zama
Zama, the recent Japanese restaurant on 19th Street gets the three bell treatment from Craig LaBan. LaBan finds Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s Rittenhouse restaurant to be the best Japanese restaurant since Morimoto came to town.
The quality of the fish and its preparation is simply pristine, especially in the ever-changing market specials. Ribbons of parrot fish came dusted with yuzu shavings that lent its flukelike delicate mildness a citrus sparkle. Golden-eye snapper (kinmedai), edged with the electric pink lacework of its skin, was amazingly tender and fresh. The baby yellowtail (kampachi) melted like fish velvet. The butterflied orange clam, glistening over a pad of perfectly toothy rice, had the clam’s distinctively fleshy snap and briny savor. A live scallop, meanwhile, so feisty its shell snipped at the chef’s fingers until it met the fateful blade, arrived in thicker-than-usual sashimi discs that slipped across my tongue with an intense tidal rush of sea and sweetness.