When my sister found out that she'd been accepted to UCSF Medical School, my parents and I took her out to celebrate. I think we were more excited about her acceptance than she was. (We're really pushing for her to stay in-state.)
We offered to take her out to a Brazilian steakhouse, but she wanted all you can eat sushi and asked to go to Kenzo instead:
No reservations possible, but our 45 minute wait wasn't bad at all. It certainly gave my mother enough time to cross the street and shop a bit at Michaels before our name was called.
The restaurant was crammed full of people:
As we sat down, we noticed two young guys at a table next to us. They looked utterly miserable with their heads in their hands as they stared at two completely untouched sushi rolls. We had ourselves a good chuckle at their expense at the time. Little did we know that we wouldn't be laughing for much longer.
Kenzo is set up so that you can write down your orders on a laminated two-sided menu:
You're allowed five rounds of ordering. From what I read on Yelp reviews, most people call it quits after the second or third round.
We didn't even make it past the first.
Things started innocently enough. The baby octopus kara-age came in four pieces, a bite for each of us:
We totally had no idea what this was, much less remembered that we'd ordered it:
It took some sleuthing through the menu to figure out that it was monkey brain. Sounds grotesque, but it was quite delicious. Can't go wrong with deep fried avocado with spicy tuna and crab.
The sashimi salad was nice and refreshing:
The daily special was uni that day. There's a limit of one per customer, so of course we maximized the opportunity and ordered four:
Things were going great even after the first of our rolls arrived. We skipped the fried roll section and went straight for the baked. We got the bay island roll (shrimp tempura, crab, and avocado topped with baked scallop) and the lobster roll (crab and avocado topped with baked lobster, green onion, tobiko, and bonito flakes):
Then came our fatal mistake. Kenzo doesn't ofer straight sashimi. Instead, if you want your raw fish fix, you need to order nigiri. Which was fine with us...except for one major miscalculation. My sister went through the nigiri section and wrote "4" on over half of the nigiri options. Four orders for four people. Makes sense, right?
It wasn't until the waitress walked away with our menu that we realized we'd made a serious tactical error. Each nigiri order came with two pieces. Add to that the fact that my mother doesn't like raw fish and that meant eight pieces per nigiri type for three people. When this monstrous platter came to our table, we felt the first stirrings of misgiving:
Then came the rest of our rolls. We got a philly roll (I love cream cheese in sushi), a white tuna love roll (white tuna and avocado topped with more white tuna and green onion), a spiderman III roll (soft shell crab and avocado topped with unagi, avocado, and macadamia nuts), and a mango crunch roll (spicy crab and mango topped with salmon, avocado, and tempura bits):
And our nigiri nightmare wasn't even over yet:
The two hand rolls were for my mother.
As if that wasn't enough:
Unlike other AYCE sushi restaurants, Kenzo doesn't try to stuff you with rice. Which is quite nice of them. All the same, by the end of the meal, we were all playing hide-the-rice-to-avoid-being-charged-for-leftovers. I couldn't even lift a piece of the white tuna lover roll without feeling nauseous.
The best part was when my father turned to me and whimpered, "I just want to go home..."
You can opt to order off the menu instead of doing the all you can eat route, but why? For $24.95 per person, Kenzo is a fantastic deal.
Even though we walked out all swearing that we didn't even want to look at sushi again for two years, my sister and I were already strategizing how we would do Kenzo differently the next time just a couple days later.
5465 Snell Ave
San Jose, CA 95123