Hajime Sato opens Sozai in Clawson, leveling up Me...

Hajime Sato opens Sozai in Clawson, leveling up Metro Detroit’s sushi game

We feasted on carefully prepared Great Lakes walleye, seared black cod, coho salmon roe and much more.

Credit: Will Branch

Listen, if you’re going to open a sushi restaurant down the street from the legendary Noble Fish in Clawson, you better know what you’re doing with raw fish. Enter Hajime Sato.

Sozai is a new Japanese restaurant focusing on sustainable sushi from Sato, whose Seattle-based eatery Mashiko “defined the sustainable sushi movement in the city,” according to none other than Eater. Sato, who recently moved to Metro Detroit from Seattle in part to care for his wife’s health, opened Sozai last week with a carry-out menu that showcases the glorious bounty of Great Lakes-area seafood. 

I got an early taste (my husband is Sato’s realtor) but this recommendation comes after careful consideration — I would never lie about something as delicious as sushi.

Sato takes care to marinate many of his aquatic items in house, like the delicate ikura (coho salmon roe) and namagi (a surprisingly tasty catfish). Makimono rolls reveal unexpected twists, like the roasted green beans peeking out from the Bowler Roller or the tag team of tempura onion and Great Lakes walleye in the Michigan roll. 

Our favorite move is to order the daily bento box, packed with daily treasures like seared black cod and a delicately seasoned poke. The next time I’m craving delicious and sustainable fresh fish (so, probably right now), I’m calling in my order to Sozai. 

Sozai, 449 West 14 Mile Road, Clawson. @sozairestaurant on IG. Currently open for carryout.

Ashley Woods Branch is the founder and CEO of Detour Media, a local journalism startup that builds community, spotlights neighborhood issues and curates Detroit news through an equitable perspective. Ashley leads Detour’s audience growth strategies, community partnerships, revenue operations and strategic planning. She’s also a sought-after consultant for digital newsrooms and has worked with more than 100 news outlets across America. Ashley previously led consumer experience and digital strategy at the Detroit Free Press and was the editor of HuffPost’s Detroit bureau, as well as a reporter and editor focused on Detroit culture and development for MLive, Real Detroit Weekly and Model D. She was a 2019 Marshall Memorial Fellow and a 2018 Visiting Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University. Follow her on Twitter: @ash_detroit