All technique, no passion

Dinner last night at Taro’s by Mikuni, in Arden Fair Mall.  I was not impressed.

Sushi is not assembly line food. The best sushi comes from tiny places where the owner is the chef, where his pride and reputation are on the line every day and quality is the only consideration.  Taro’s by Mikuni is just one part of a sushi empire in the Sacramento area, their only consideration seems to be the bottom line.

It’s a big, good looking facility–it used to be Max’s Opera Cafe.  Mike noticed that there seemed to be a lot of square footage with very few tables.  I guess you don’t want everyone to see a ton of empty seats.

Here’s the first clue that you aren’t in a good sushi bar–the sushi is made with “crab mix”, not crab.  Not even “Krab™”, but “crab mix”, which is some kind of imitation crab cheaper than the brand name imitation crab.  There will never be a Michelin starred restaurant that uses “crab mix”.

The menu is extremely large, which always makes me worry.  There are full meals, small plates, individual nigiri sushi, sushi rolls, hand rolls, noodles,soups and salads.  Too much to assimilate for the diner, too much to perfect for the kitchen.

Some things were good.  I started with a bowl of garlic edamame, and they were excellent. Lots of garlic, perfectly cooked beans, I loved them.

Here’s what’s wrong with uninspired, assembly line sushi–it all tastes the same.  I had a “Mel” roll and a rainbow roll.  I doubt strongly that I could tell them apart blindfolded.

This is a rainbow roll.

This is a rainbow roll.

The menu listing for the rainbow roll includes “kanikama”, which turns out to be yet another name for imitation crab.

Mike and Linda could not resist ordering a “Marilyn Monroll”.  It sure looks good:

Marilyn Monroll--this time they call the filler "crab mix"

Marilyn Monroll–this time they call the filler “crab mix”

 

It looks good, it tasted alright, it just isn’t great.  More “crab mix”.

Bob and Dan had the seared Ahi, which looks magnificent:

This looks wonderful.

This looks wonderful.

It would be wrong to say that there was anything bad about Taro’s, it just isn’t great.  There is no passion, no heat, no obsessive concentration on excellence.

The dessert sounded great–tempura ice cream.  The presentation was excellent, a scoop of ice cream coated in pound cake crumbs and quickly tempura flash fried and napped with a brunoise of mango.  Unfortunately, the ice cream was some cheap commercial brand, not the rich, high quality product one would hope for.

Taro’s by Mikuni is a mediocre, cookie cutter, pale imitation of a good sushi bar, a place to serve hordes of people who don’t really understand or appreciate good sushi.  You deserve better.

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