We are not fish experts. Briana is actually allergic to raw fish, and Steve eats fish but is not really a big seafood lover. We've heard from other people that Uzen is all about the freshness and quality of their ingredients, particularly the raw fish. They have a somewhat simple menu, which focuses mainly on sushi. This is great for people who love (or aren't allergic to) raw fish, but for us it makes it a little difficult both to order and to fairly review. Next time we review a sushi restaurant, we'll be sure to bring along a seafood expert.
We started off with miso soup, and little salads. The salad was your standard sushi restaurant salad of mixed greens with a sesame dressing. The miso soup had a smokey flavor that Steve enjoyed, but Briana didn't care for. If "smokey miso" sounds like something you would like, then you should try it.
We also got Tsukune, which are skewered pieces of chicken meatballs. One had a sesame sauce, and the other was seasoned with Japanese herbs. Steve liked both of them, but Briana didn't like either one. The sesame one was not too surprising, but the Japanese herb one was pretty unusual. It's a very unique flavor, kind of bitter and aromatic, that some people will love and others will hate.
Briana got the tempura because she wanted to eat some fried food, however the batter on Uzen's tempura was so light that it was almost non-existent. The sauce that came with the tempura had a similar smokey flavor to the miso soup. Steve was into the sauce, but Briana, not so much.
Finally, the sushi. Clockwise from the top: Unagi (grilled eel), Tekka (tuna roll), and vegetable roll. Briana only tried the vegetable roll, and thought it was boring. Steve really liked all the sushi. The eel was nicely grilled, the tuna had great texture and flavor, and the vegetable roll was crunchy and refreshing.
We usually like the same things and tend to agree on whether a dish is good or bad, so it's difficult for us to come to a consensus on Uzen. Rather than give a single rating based on an average, we're giving (for the first time ever) separate Sabuys!
Uzen has great sushi, and some unusual and interesting dishes. The menu is not expansive, but the quality and uniqueness make up for it. Prices are reasonable, and service was good. I give Uzen 3.5 Sabuys:
This all coming from someone who can't eat raw fish, yet is attempting to review a sushi restaurant... I didn't care for many of the flavor choices, and was bummed that the miso had the same smokiness as the tempura dipping sauce. Each dish sort of just felt like a let down. BUT, the service was super nice, and I hear the fish is outstanding, so I won't be too harsh. I give Uzen 2.5 Sabuys for all their non fish things that I consumed:
Uzen: 5415 College Avenue Oakland, Ca 94618
Next stop: Soi Four!