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Mikaku

November 1, 2006

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Given its ultra-touristy location, located just south of the Chinatown gate at Bush and Grant, Mikaku is a surprisingly good Japanese restaurant nestled between Union Square, Chinatown, and the Financial District. Mikaku serves a variety of well-loved dishes, ranging from cooked dishes and special items, to sushi, sashimi, and chirashi, to a collection of noodle dishes. Although nothing here is truly spectacular, preparations here range from decent to quite well done.

In general, Short Exact prefers to order sushi at sushiyas that will be more likely to stock special or seasonal fish. Mikaku is certainly not a sushiya, nor does it stock any special fish. Recently, though, we were attending a meeting just around the corner from Mikaku, and we had a hankering for raw fish, so we instead of ordering sushi, we settled for the chirashi deluxe.

The chirashi is a dinner combo that begins with an unremarkable but perfectly serviceable salad and miso soup,

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which is then followed up by the chirashi deluxe, the main event:

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The deluxe chirashi features fresh cuts of maguro, hamachi, sake, ebi, ika, unagi, saba, and tamago (among others), all served atop a bed of seaweed and sushi rice. This was certainly not a perfect chirashi: the texture of the maguro was a bit on the stringy side, and the tamago omelet was good, if ever slightly too sweet for our taste. In addition, the delicate flavors of the sushi rice were not well-balanced, leaning a bit too heavily in the direction of the vinegar. However, the saba was actually quite nice, and the house marination did a nice job of enhancing the natural mackerel flavors, without overpowering them. The fish used is definitely not of the most pristine quality, but, in our experience, it has been rather fresh and reasonably tasty.

All in all, Mikaku is a good restaurant, featuring tasty food with service that is both prompt and quite friendly. Mikaku is certainly not a destination in its own right, but it is a good choice if you are in this touristy quarter of the city and have a craving for Japanese food that is at least a step above tourist chow. The varied menu will satisfy diners with a wide range of tastes, and those who are not fans of raw fish have plenty of other good options to choose from. True, Mikaku is not making any grand culinary achievements, but the restaurant serves solid, reliable Japanese food in a convenient location, at reasonable prices, making it a good choice of restaurant to drop in on if you are in the area.

RATING:

COST:

323 Grant Avenue (between Bush St. and Sutter St.)
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: 415.781.6730
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm; Sat: 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm. Closed Sundays.

Cuisine: Japanese
Neighborhood: Union Square, Financial District

How to get there: Mikaku is within 3-4 blocks of the Powell BART/Muni subway station, as well as Muni lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 9X, 30, 38, 45, 76, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T. The restaurant is also 2 blocks from the cable car lines running on California and Powell streets.

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