By Jano Tantongco
Hugo and Lisa Gasian, of Dix Hills, have been eating at Zaza Japan in East Northport since it opened almost two years ago. Lisa called it nothing short of the “gem of Long Island,” while Hugo said the couple eats there nearly every other day.
On Friday, they were treated to an impromptu hibachi show courtesy of Head Hibachi Chef Keven Liu who flipped his utensils back and forth as he created the famous onion volcano.
Stepping into the restaurant, you’ll find yourself transported to a dimly lit space glittering with wall panels that simulate water splashing and swirling. A variety of light and elegant music keeps the atmosphere mellow and conducive to mindful eating.
Together with a spacious interior and high ceilings, the environment quickly feels like an aquatic home tucked away at the bottom of the sea.
That’s a feeling echoed by manager David Lin, who wants his patrons to feel at home at Zaza. He considers the regulars, like the Gasians, to be friends and family.
“When the customer come in, they can feel like they’re coming home. We’ll be like their kitchen,” Lin said.
He also highlighted the restaurant’s use of a hibachi smoke suppression system. It utilizes a tightly controlled downward ventilation system that keeps smoke away from diners. The result is a cleaner and more streamlined hibachi experience unlike any other.
For starters, the Tuna Tower ($13) is a uniquely designed stack of chopped tuna, avocado, cilantro, mango, pine nuts with a deliciously tangy ponzu sauce between four layers of thin, crispy fried wonton skins. The very sharable dish features a tender and hearty tuna punctuated by bits of mango that add a welcome fruitiness to complement the bolder elements of the plate.
The Pan Seared Scallop Sushi ($11.95) continues the creativity with four mini fillo shells filled with sushi rice, avocado, layered with eel and pan seared scallop, all finished with a drizzle of horseradish sauce. Best eaten in one bite, these sushi bites are miniature meals in themselves, blending together a mildly sweet eel with the smoky and sultry scallops. The fillo shells are delicately crispy and flakey that add an almost pastry-like quality to the appetizer. It’s also topped with a black roe that adds a touch of robust, fresh-from-the-sea taste.
Moving on to the main dish, the Hibachi Chicken ($17.95) features a sultry and savory chicken with zucchini, carrots, mushrooms and broccoli. It’s served with a classic side of white rice; soup; and salad. The chicken carries a freshly grilled and light flavor that could only come from hibachi. Sides of ginger sauce and spicy mayonnaise respectively provide a fresh zest or creamier kick for the chicken. Even the veggies are immersed in the hibachi flavor and add to the dish with a natural crunch.
Zaza also offers happy hour specials from 3-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, offering a selection of eight wines at $6 each, craft beer on draft for $3.50, appetizers starting at $3, special martinis for $6 and the Zaza Mai Tai for $6.
Atmosphere: Quiet and trendy
Hours: Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner: Monday-Thursday, 3-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 3-11 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30-9:30 p.m.
4000 Jericho Tpke, No. 9, East Northport
Cuisine: Asian Fusion