Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka is several weeks from opening Zama, his first Japanese restaurant, just north of Rittenhouse Square, where Loie used to be (128 S. 19th St., 215-568-1027).
Tanaka came to Philly from Japan about 20 years ago to study at Temple University, and ended up working at such restaurants as Pod and Morimoto.
He's retained Jun Aizaki of Crème Design Collective, who's created Amada and Distrito, to do the 80-seater, which will have an eight-seat sushi bar and a 14-seat private room.
It's not quite photo-ready, but the design notes say it will be ultra-simple and seem to glow from within from backlit, light-colored maple wooden slats that frame the walls. A hanging rice paper lantern shaped like a fish will hang over the sushi bar. The floor is made from poured concrete blended with shimmering aggregates.
Rolls will include "Lob-Temp," tempura lobster with uni sauce and teriyaki-truffle; "Hama-peno Mango," yellowtail with jalapeno and chili-mango; "Bullish!!!," seared Kobe beef on top of sesame-soy wrapped sushi rice with spicy ponzu; "Sizzled White Fish," striped bass with citrus-soy and finished with hot sesame oil. He'll offer more than 30 a la carte sashimi, plus maki rolls and vegetable offerings. Sushi bar items will range in price from $2 for an egg omelet sushi to $45 for a toro sampler.
Menu ($5 to $28) will include an assortment of soups, salads, as well as a half dozen entrees, including: akadashi aoup with tofu and scallion; salmon skin salad with mixed greens, kawarie sprouts and sesame onion dressing; genmai vegetable spring rolls with spinach, wood ear mushroom and pickled vegetable wrapped with brown rice paper; Zama house tofu, cooked tableside with choice of two sauces; Kirin Ichiban braised short ribs served with sautéed udon noodles; yuzu pepper chicken, oven roasted free-range chicken with grilled maitake and Tokyo scallions; and black cod misoyaki with pickled root vegetables. It will be dinner-only at the start.
Bar will stock Japanese and domestic beers, sakes, and wines, plus cocktails.