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A new Japanese restaurant on Rittenhouse Square serving innovative sushi in a chic, gracious atmosphere

Zama Sushi Restaurant in Philadelphia

Sushi at Zama Credit: J. Varney for Zama


Zama is the new eponymous restaurant by Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka, one of the Philadelphia’s most venerated sushi chefs. The restaurant is located on 19th Street just half a block from Rittenhouse Square, making it an extremely convenient and enticing new dining option for visitors and locals alike.

The restaurant incorporates modern ingredients and cooking techniques to serve innovative and visually stunning sushi alongside a variety of other exquisitely prepared Japanese dishes. All accompanied by a diverse selection of cocktails, beer and wine.

At its heart, Zama is anchored by its deeply knowledgeable and passionate head chef. Chef Zama has previously worked at such Asian landmarks in Philadelphia as POD, Morimoto and Genji at the Ritz Carlton. He is very excited to finally open his own sushi restaurant and bring more of the rich culinary traditions of Japan to Center City.

The Food

Fans of Chef Zama’s extraordinary sushi will be thrilled with Zama’s offerings, renowned for their aesthetic appeal and incomparable freshness of flavor, including special rolls such as: 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; and Sizzled White Fish, striped bass with citrus-soy and finished with hot sesame oil.

The restaurant offers more than 30 a la carte sashimi, as well as a wide variety of maki rolls and vegetable offerings. Sushi bar items range in price from $2 for an egg omelet sushi to $45 for a Toro Sampler.

The menu includes an assortment of soups, salads, as well as a half dozen entrees, including: Akadashi Soup 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. Menu items range in price from $5 to $28.

The restaurant also serves a wide variety of Japanese and domestic beers, as well as a lengthy list of sakes, wines hand-picked to complement the cuisine, and a full bar, offering a selection of playful cocktails including the Grasshopper-san, Zen green tea liquor, melon liqueur and Calpico soda; Sake Punch, Nigori, black cherry vodka, raspberry puree, mango juice, lime juice and garnished with dragon fruit; and Tokyo Martini, bourbon, ginger brandy, St. Germaine liquor and grenadine.

The Design

The restaurant’s simple, natural aesthetic is intended to serve as a backdrop for Zama’s vibrant food. The gracious, ultra-simple space seems to glow from within, thanks to backlit, light-colored maple wooden slats that frame the walls and a dramatic hanging rice paper lantern shaped like a fish over the eight-seat sushi bar where Chef Zama will oversee production and greet guests.

Black couches with splashes of vibrant red color on plush pillows, maple wood butcher block table tops and a vaulted ceiling with a pattern reminiscent of a Japanese sand garden completes the welcoming space. A dark floor made from poured concrete blended with shimmering aggregates creates a subtle sparkle that echoes the warmth of the entire space. There’s also a private dining room that offers intimate seating for up to 14 guests.

Zama currently serves dinner seven days a week from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Lunch service is planned for the future.

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