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Have you ever craved traditional Japanese sushi and seafood, Western grill, and creative new dishes? Well, you can experience all of these tastes in a fusion of the senses at Zip Fusion: Japanese sushi and grill in Carmel Valley. Zip Fusion’s ambiance is like a combination of Japanese designs and new architecture. They have an open kitchen at the bar, where you can watch Chef Kim (which mom and I often do), and other sous chefs prepare fresh, prime-grade sushi, soft steamed rice, vegetables, and various special sauces and spices, right in front of your eyes! Just by glancing at the seafood, you can tell that it’s the best quality.
The first appetizer that we tried was the special Seafood Salad, filled with multicolored lettuce. The salmon had a fresh, fatty taste, and flaked off in layers when chewed. The Tuna chunks in the salad had a more lean texture, and was tighter. Just one bite of the mix of greens, salmon, and tuna was heavenly, and the contrast of fresh greens and fatty fish is set off by the special savory-sour sauce. The sauce was one of the highlights: Chef Kim’s secret recipe, and he sells it for $10 a tub. Sesame and slivers of carrots and beets were scattered in the dish, giving a crisp texture. I couldn’t believe that this salad was only an appetizer!
We were brought two huge bowls of Asari Miso Soup: soy powder mixed into a broth. Chunks of silky smooth tofu dot the soup, as well as seaweed and delectable asari meat (clam). The hand roll was one of my old favorites at Zip Fusion. The roll is like an ice cream cone, except with spicy yellowtail dotted with roast sesame as the ice cream, and crispy seaweed for the cone. There was also warm sushi rice and sweet, crunchy cucumber slices.
The first entree was the Dragon Roll, a specialty sushi roll plate. The roll had savory eel, two different types of crab meat, fresh, oily avocado, and a few dots of caviar. There was normal crab meat, and there was hot, crispy soft-shell crab. I would really recommend to eat the roll with a slice of tangy ginger, because it creates a burst of flavor that tastes superb! On the top of the sushi rice was some stringy material, edible, but tasteless.
The next dish was probably my favorite: the Baked Scallop. This one was a massive scallop shell with piles of spicy scallops, crab, chewy orange caviar, and minced onion leaf. It was completely drizzled with spicy, creamy dynamite sauce, and tasted like an explosion in my mouth. It was cooked in a dazzling display as alcohol around the shell was lit with a blowtorch. If you love roasted shellfish, or anything spicy for that matter, you’ll LOVE this!
We then ordered the Live Sweet Shrimp. It was a very interesting combination, with a fried, crispy tempura head. The other half of the shrimp was raw, and the freshest shrimp I had ever tasted! However, if you don’t like Wasabi much, remember to scrape out a chunk hidden inside the shrimp tail.
This friendly, popular neighborhood restaurant also features many sushi rolls that are 50% off, such as my favorite “Sensual Pleasure Roll” with spicy scallops and tuna. I give Zip Fusion 4 starfish rating, it’s “Perrific!” Whenever I crave for sushi, Zip Fusion is often the place to go!
Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning film/ entertainment critic & animator, artist, speaker, and entertainment personality. He started writing movie reviews at 8 using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, under the guidance of his mom Dr. Zhu Shen and his 3rd grade teacher Ms. Harris. Perry’s debut on the CBS Evening News in 2009 made him a national sensation. He has been featured extensively on local, national, and international media, including NPR, Fox, CNN, NBC, The Guardian, The China Press, and many more. He has interviewed prominent filmmakers at film festivals, red carpet premieres, and press junkets. He won a prestigious “Excellence in Journalism Award” at the San Diego Press Club in 2010 as its youngest member. Perry currently writes movie reviews for the Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews website with a combined readership of over 2 million worldwide. Perry and his family live in the community of Carmel Valley San Diego.
Dr. Zhu Shen’s love for the movies started when she was a young girl, growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution where watching movies was the only entertainment available to the masses. Her journey to become a filmmaker took a convoluted path. She studied medicine at Peking Union Medical College before coming to the US and earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Colorado, and then an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School. She is a producer of the upcoming documentary feature “Average Joe on the Raw,” about journey into raw food and health. Dr. Shen is also an award-winning biotech executive, author, speaker, China business expert featured on national and trade media including CBS, Fox, Business Week, Pharmaceutical Executive, and more. She has worked at IBM, Bayer, Chiron, Immusol, and is the CEO of BioForesight, consulting on cross-Pacific life science business. *Photos of Perry Chen and Zhu Shen by Brian Bostrom.