new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Mikuni Sushi, Midtown Sacramento

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mikuni Sushi, Midtown Sacramento

Mikuni Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Midtown Sacramento
1530 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 447-2111

Mikuni is certainly convicted of it's own hipness, and its massive new Midtown location is no departure from the theme. The warehouse like space is decked out with trendoid fixtures and furniture, and the clientele ranges from middle-aged yuppies to the skinny jeans and cellphones contingent. There's three (or is it two?) sushi bars going non-stop all night long, and the volume level can enter sub-rock concert levels (or maybe that was my imagination.)

But how's the food? The menu was absolutely tremendous, glossy, and contained a variety of interesting advertisements. The roll menu's sheer variety is somewhat bewildering, and I ended up stabbing rather blindly on whatever contained components that I liked. There's also a huge selection of interesting looking appetizers, although we didn't try any on this visit.

The sashimi combo was a solid rendition, although nothing about it blew me away. The tuna was certainly firm and fresh and possessed a nice color, and I enjoyed the addition of the subtle yet chewy giant clam. The portion size was decent enough, but I would have preferred more (and more interesting) varieties of fish for my dime.

We moved on to rolls, including the 911 Spicy Tuna, which was honestly incendiary. I am pretty butch about my spicy food and this just about broke me - I was slugging down water like a champion. But it wasn't necessarily a good or interesting spiciness. It just tasted like your standard Sriracha chili sauce with the addition of some sort of perverse turbo power, completely overpowering any flavor the tuna might have retained. I'm not that much of a masochist.

The other rolls - one unagi based and other containing the requisite shrimp tempura - were pretty good in that over-sauced and over-sweetened style that is ubiquitous across Northern California. You've had this kind of sushi before and you'll doubtless have it again, though Mikuni may have a legitimate claim to popularizing the "throw some sauce on everything, make it at least three bites for mere mortals, and hope for the best" style. I prefer the small and simple traditional rolls, but that's just me. Many people indeed prefer the Crazy Explosion of Fish variety of sushi.

We finished with a very nice vegetable tempura, a big mound of the usual veggie tempura suspects. Especially good were the sweet yam and the light-as-air onion ring. Dipped in the provided sauce, it was a nice way to finish the meal.

Our server was extremely friendly and had the slightly disarming habit of dropping to one knee and staring at us really intently when we looked like we might be about to order. This annoyed me but in no way affected his tip. Despite the three feverishly-slicing sushi chefs on view, our food took quite a long time to make it's way to our table. We showed up on Tuesday night but the place was as packed as ever. Mikuni is dearly loved in Sacramento. If you're looking for okay sushi in a trendoid enviroment, you could certainly do worse.

ADDENDUM: Mikuni is subject to what seems to be a growing trend of Cool People Who Pretend To Like Sushi. This can be endlessly amusing to the assiduous observer, as packs of young hipsters come in, over-order, and proceed to pick listlessly at their food. (This can also be maddening when you consider all that tasty raw fish that is going to be tossed in the dumpster in a matter of minutes. And aren't yellowfin tuna getting endangered?) I was laughing for quite a long while at the sight of a fetching young blonde woman in way-too-tight pants actually impaling her sushi on one chopstick and attempting to convey it to her mouth. Good stuff.

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