723 K St
Sacramento, CA 95814
Three Monkeys, yet another attempt to make K Street Mall slightly less gungy, was all the rage a few months ago, attracting big old crowds to indulge in a highly eclectic menu. The crowds are gone months onward, but does the food hold up?
Set in a rather conventional (but pleasant) space, Three Monkeys reminds me of your standard Western brewpub space, with a big open bar and whismical paintings of the Sacramento Delta on the wall. Unlike your average brewpub, Three Monkeys features an inconogorous sushi bar smack dab in the middle of it with sake signs plastered all over it. Therein we find Three Monkeys gimmick: Brew-pub American food (pulled pork slides, fried chicken tenders, burgers, salads) juxtaposed with freshly cut sushi and other Asian and Mexican specialties all one one rather thick menu.
Since me and my dining companions (hi kevin!!) were experincing a dangerous sushi jones, we stuck to that portion of the menu. The sliders looked good from a distance if that's worth anything to you.
We began with the tuna poke salad, served with sweet onions and fried lotus chips. This was a tasty version, and I was impressd with the freshness of the fish - the lotus chips were an interesting and crunchy alternate to potato chips. (I also like how they knid of look like alien life forms.)
We also sampled the tropical salmon - raw salmon stuffed with crab and served with tropical salsa. This sounds foofoo but was actually rather delicous, again featuring commendably fresh fish - even the martini glass presentation was rather adorable.
We moved on to unagi nigiri and the chef's special salmon belly. The unagi was as tasty a version as I've had other places, but the salmon belly stood out: quickly seared and topped with a bit of vinegared onion, it was a delicious and fatty little tidbit.
Next up was the K Street Roll - filled with fried soft shell crab, avocado, crab salad, and wrapped with salmon. This was not exactly revolutionary sushi but it was fresh, skillfully made and quite tasty, and I deeply appreciated that the crab was freshly fried instead of fished out of some box after being fried roughly 2.5 years ago. Props.
Round four: Asian lettuce wraps (hello, P.F Changs) with ground chicken and mushroom, along with a Korean-ish dipping sauce, served over cellophane noodles. This was a perfectly serviceable version of that Chinese Food For Frightened White People genre, and I did enjoy it, especiallly the pickled vegetables on the side.
We ended with hamachi kama, that delicious dish composed of grilled fish collar with ponzu, broiled under a very hot flame. Three Monkeys seems to be sourcing some rather tasty fish, and this took a while to cook but came out excellent: lots of fresh and flavorful meat with a nice crispy fish-skin crust. (Do not order hamachi kama if you averse to picking around bones and kind of looking like a horrible animal.)
Three Monkeys is doing a surprisingly good job on its sushi component, although the non-Japanese aspects of the menu have yet to be tested - at least by me. Certainly it's a good option to keep in mind if you're in downtown Sacramento and find yourself in the midst of one of those annoying ass social groups where everyone wants something different because they are just that special.