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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ozora Sushi and Steak: far from usual, and a nice break!

Lunch date #65: March 13, 2015

We've been out to lunch a few times recently, but either back to places we've tried before, or out for other reasons. Finally last Friday we had a chance to get back to our project. We've seen the new place by Trader Joe's for a while and thought another sushi place in Pleasanton? Why bother…but since we're good sports and attempting to try all restaurants in P-town, thought it was time to give it a try! So it was off to Ozora Sushi and Steak (6770 Santa Rita; http://www.ozora-sushi.com) for our 65th lunch date.

Location 3.5 points: Next to Trader Joe's at Pimlico and Santa Rita. Not exactly a thrilling location. We all know how difficult parking is there, but we found a place right by the front door (opens at the south aspect of the building), so no complaints there.

Ambiance 3.5 points: We were pleasantly surprised with the appearance of the interior. They did a good job with the build-out, in a nice Asian-style, including a light and airy ambiance with an open-kitchen sushi bar. We had no idea we'd find two restaurants in one: regular sushi/Japanese restaurant on one side and teppanyaki (table-side grill) on the other. We didn't realize this and were seated in the regular side-but no one actually asked when we arrived and there were no patrons on the teppanyaki side at that time. When we told our waitress we wanted the hibachi grilled lunch, she then said we had to move over to the other side. We were the only ones there for a while, and ended up with our own personal chef. It seems like if the place was busy, it would have a fun ambiance with 7 teppanyaki grills, each facing 8 seats around. Score for ambiance would have been higher, if it weren't for the "to-go" boxes and extra dishes stacked about, creating a distraction for the otherwise clean appearing restaurant.

Menu 4.5 points: Very extensive sushi-with all of the assorted roll-types, bento boxes with assorted choices and then the whole teppanyaki side menu also.  The lunch selections are served with beef broth soup, green salad, grilled vegetables and rice.

Food 4.5 points: We were delighted with our selections. We elected to get one order of each the chicken and steak to share. Our very own teppanyaki chef, Moogie, started grilling the ingredients for fried rice and then fresh veggies (broccoli, carrots, onion, mushrooms and zucchini), and of course prepared the food with rhythmic-flare! He cooked everything to perfection: all was favorable and quite fresh. Even the soup broth and green salad (crisp greens and ginger-sesame dressing) were pretty good. The fried rice was perfect-not greasy. The chicken and steak were moist and tender.

Service 4 points: The server was efficient, in the beginning, but then we didn't see her again for drink refills. Moogie was delightful. He worked at Hana Japan in Dublin for 11 years and is quite good at grilling/chopping and all of the entertainment that seems incumbent with this style of cooking.

Value 5 points: The chicken teppanyaki lunch was $11.95. Quite a good lunch for this price-similar in price to a sandwich in a lot of places. We had plenty to take home, too, which always makes Mom happy! The steak lunch was $14.95 and well worth this price. We aren't sure what the meal prices are for dinner, but the lunch is an amazing good deal.

Overall score for Ozora: 4.2 points. This rates up with our highest. We had a delightful lunch and were quite pleased to stumble in to Ozora. We will definitely return and bring friends.