It seems like ever since I started my new job I haven’t had much motivation to blog. Which is funny because I have the means and the leisure to eat at many more places. Still, it’s a new year and new resolutions include writing more.
I feel I should write a disclaimer about my prejudice against Dine Out. While Dine Out is marketed as an opportunity to try new high-end dining places for a reasonable, I think the reality is very different. My past experiences are very hit or miss. Not only is it extremely difficult to get a reservation, the food also tends to suffer. Last year especially, there were many complaints that the prices were not worth the food offerings. As a result, I tend to only try one new restaurant a year during Dine Out because it’s simply not worth the hassle.
This year, I opted to visit Miku with my mom and sister for a girls’ lunch. Miku had a 3 course lunch menu for $28, which was one of the pricier restaurants. However, Miku has a reputation for high end sushi in a city with many cheap sushi eats, and we had wanted to try it for some time.
The restaurant has a gorgeous view of the ocean. I loved the stylized Japanese koi stream painted on the wall. Overall, the decor was very West Coast with a Japanese twist. They also have an open kitchen. I think the open kitchen combined with aburi smell results in a faint fishy smell throughout the restaurant.
It was fairly busy when we arrived but we were seated immediately. My sister and I both opted for the Dine Out menu while my mom had the vegetarian sushi combo. We split a serving of kale goma-ae. The vegetarian sushi pieces were all impressive. The avocado roll had at least 5 layers of thinly sliced avocado on top from what we could see. Also, the kale goma-ae was tender and well-seasoned – the sauce had a hint of black sesame instead of just the typical white sesame paste.
From the Dine Out website menu:
Appetizer : (from left to right in the photo)
Soy Braised Beef Shank: yukon potato puree, wasabi veal jus
Ebi Fritter: sweet chili aioli, soy balsamic reduction
Aburi Albacore Tuna: lightly flame seared, masatake sauce
Fresh Market Salad: chef’s daily selection
Selection of Aburi, Nigiri, and Oshi Sushi prepared using our famous aburi-style technique
Selection of the day
The appetizers followed the theme of the decor – West Coast food with a Japanese twist. It’s definitely fusion rather than simple traditional washoku. The soy glazed braised beef was very well cooked, tender and falling apart. The potatoes were perfectly smooth and creamy. However, it was also very heavy for a combo appetizer box. I had difficulty finishing it and left it for last. I enjoyed the ebi fritter a lot. It was crispy and the shrimp inside was large but perfectly cooked. The bed of salad tasted suspiciously like caesar salad to me which came as a bit of a surprise. I also enjoyed the seared tuna. My dislike of most tuna stems from its mushy texture (especially compared to salmon), but I found this tuna still had a little bit of chewiness. Finally, the salad. I liked the ponzu dressing on the salad and probably could have eaten more of the salad by itself.
Miku is known for their aburi style sushi. I looked this up later and it’s a style of nigiri sushi that’s been seared or grilled. If I remember correctly, the selection that day included tuna, ebi, hamachi and 2 pieces of salmon. The only flavors I did not enjoy were the shrimp and pesto. To me, there’s something strange about pairing shrimp and pesto with sushi rice and wasabi. On their own, they taste fine, but my taste buds rebel against all of them together. However, the worst thing was that I found a bone in my very poorly trimmed hamachi. I am not the first either – a Google search will turn up other instances. It was resolved to our satisfaction but only after complaining several times, emails, etc. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
It was kind of downhill from there. The dessert was not memorable. Our selections were a passionfruit sorbet with fresh berries, and a balsamic ice cream. We got one of each but were nonplussed. The passionfruit sorbet was quite tart and exacerbated by tart out-of-season blackberries. The balsamic ice cream had a stronger flavor of yogurt with only a slight hint of balsamic. Essentially I’m complaining about one being too tart and the other not tart enough.
Overall, Miku has relatively attentive service (although poor complaint handling) and good fusion appetizers. If you like aburi sushi, it’s a pretty good place to go. However, it’s definitely on the expensive side, and there are a few other high end Japanese sushi restaurants I’d like to try out before settling back on Miku. The food has not fully convinced me to return.