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First look at Zama

The progressive Japanese off of Rittenhouse Square will open Saturday.

Some restaurant designers play with light to achieve a look. Some use color.

Jun Aizaki of Crème Design Collective went with maple -- lots of it -- at Zama, the modern Japanese restaurant opening Saturday (12/19) at 128 S. 19th St. (215-568-1027), just north of Rittenhouse Square.

A forest's worth of wooden slats covers the back-lit walls and the booths.

Even the sushi bar up front is maple, sliced from a tree.

Hanging over the sushi bar is a giant rice-paper fish.

It's light, airy, fresh. You, um, wooden know it's the former Loie. (The ATM in the back is gone.)

Chef-owner Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka is a veteran of Pod, Morimoto, and Genji at the Ritz Carlton.

Menu is still not quite ready, but rolls are to include a tempura lobster with uni sauce and teriyaki-truffle; yellowtail with jalapeno and chili-mango; seared Kobe beef on sesame-soy wrapped sushi rice with spicy ponzu; and striped bass with citrus-soy and finished with hot sesame oil.

Entrees (only seven, and priced up to $28) will include Kirin Ichiban braised short ribs served with sauteed udon noodles; roasted free-range chicken with grilled maitake and Tokyo scallions; and black cod misoyaki with pickled root vegetables.

Bar (which happens to be concrete) will stock Japanese and domestic beers, plus sakes and other wines, and cocktails. It'll be open for dinner only at the start.