Zama, Philadelphia PA | Merchant Profile

Hiroyuki ìZamaî Tanaka was a student at Temple Universityís Tokyo campus when he asked where the main campus was. He was told Philadelphia, the location his favorite movie, Rocky was filmed. He immediately applied for a three month exchange program. And  twenty five years later he is still here. Zama never really thought about being in the hospitality industry. However, in order to earn money, he began dishwashing in restaurants. He literally learned the business from the bottom up and today is one of Philadelphiaís most vaunted sushi chefís. Omakase, the expression is used by patrons at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef, inspires Zama to constantly innovate, he feels a great deal of pressure to do something spectacular and different for his regular patrons. In that spirit he has said Omakase to his fish supplier. Twice a week a mystery box of fish arrives at the restaurant containing selections of fish not traditionally associated with sushi. Zama then distinguishes himself with dramatic creations utilizing seasonal vegetables and uncommon fish, to produce culinary art found nowhere else.  Chef Zama has frequently teamed with local celebrities to create Charity Rolls, where a portion of the revenue derived from the sale of the roll is donated to charity of the celebritiesí choice. In 2011, Phillies pitcher Ryan Madson collaborated with Chef Zama to create the ìMad Dog Rollî featuring: yellowtail, jalapeÒo, and avocado wrapped inside soy paper then tempura battered. Itís served open-faced, topped with tuna sashimi and an avocado salsa. Currently Zama is offering Chef inspired Charity Rolls such as the Zahav Roll. A joint effort between Chef Michael Solomonov and Sushi Chef Zama featuring: 4 mini hand rolls wrapped in red shiso flecked soy paper stuffed with sushi grade albacore tuna, shiso leaf and a house made black sesame hummus. It is served with edamame falafel and a yuzu tzatziki sauce. A portion of the profits will be donated to the Police Athletic League. Previous Charity Roll creations were so popular they have become menu mainstays. These include: the Wasabi Tuna Maki, created with snow crab tempura, tuna tartare, and wasabi mayo then the extraordinarily innovative Philly Style Roll, using premium Japanese beef, Washugyu, and provolone with spicy mayo and bibb lettuce wrapped in red pepper flaked soy paper. This roll is served with horseradish aioli and of course you can get it with or without onions.When a diner asks how is this roll done or why was it prepared in this manner, the staff at Zama are trained to know the story behind the creation of each unique dish. Chef Zama considers it the ultimate pinnacle of success when one of his diners retells the story to another as though it were an experience.

128 S 19th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103