Mikado has been around long enough that I probably have too many old memories to count. Most, if not all of them, are pretty average in nature however; which is part of why they are old memories now. The other reason is that after discovering two of the best sushi joints here, Sushi Wasabi & Furusato, I never found myself having the urge to go back. Yet here I was. Entertaining a dear friend who’d just arrived in Edmonton for business, and allowing myself a chance to get reacquainted with Mikado and maybe kick start those memories.
Billed as Alberta’s first Japanese restaurant, serving Edmonton since 1972, their South Edmonton Common outpost is but a baby in years when compared to the downtown location. The space, which looks like any other generic box store from the outside, welcomes you inside with an open, clean and modern feel. The right half of the space is dominated by the giant sushi station where at least 5 chefs were putting out food, along with an assortment of tables, while the left half is filled by tatami rooms and a handful of tables. This is where we found ourselves.
It was a good thing we had lots to catch up on, because our order took some time to be delivered. And you’ll notice, the restaurant wasn’t exactly busy. After a big pot of tea, and a few glasses of water, our appetizer arrived. Beef or Hokkigai Tataki – Lightly seared beef, or surf clams bedded on sweet red onions and seaweed in ponzu citrus sauce. If you can’t tell from the picture, we opted for beef. I’d have to say it was thicker than every version I’ve ever encountered, and quite possibly leaner than I’ve ever seen. The sauce was bright and the acidity had starter to tenderize the thicker slices of beef. The display was gorgeous, and with condiments on the side it allowed for a bit of personal touch. All in all, it was a solid plate.
Speedy Limbs went with the Sushi Bento – Chicken teriyaki, mix tempura, korokke and your choice of sushi or sashimi. Opting for sashimi, the bento also came with three starter bowls which arrived at the same time as our beef. Edadame, miso soup, and mixed salad. All three were fairly straight forward, with nothing worthy to note. The large bento arrived in a long platter (taking up most of the table) and was presented well. We both found the chicken chewy, but it had a great char flavour. The tempura was nice, maybe a little undercooked, while the slices of fish were deemed a success and the korokke taking it’s place at the back of the least favourite train.
What did I order? If you’ve read the blog, then you’ll know I’m a sucker for what I consider to be a fairly dependable test dish. Chirashi – A great deal!! A bowl of sushi rice topped with a variety of fresh fish. Not exactly the best description, but it’s a great deal, and I’m glad they didn’t say old fish. I couldn’t help but feel the beauty of this bowl was taken away by the sprinkling of nori. Where normally the bright fish would contrast with the white background, it looked camouflaged and rather mundane. The fish included the standard mix (tuna, salmon, octopus, surf clam, red snapper) was cut thin, and so perfectly, that I could have almost sworn it was mechanical. Maybe a tad warmer than I would have liked, the fish definitely presented a bit of ocean in the mouth. The rice was seasoned a bit too light, but cooked perfectly. Not the most elaborate bowl in the city, I’d have to say that for $23, it wasn’t bad.
While the memories I’ve created at their original location didn’t come flooding back, I’d like to think I’ve come and gone with no change. The fish met my required minimum demands, while the presentation was an added bonus. A few mishaps and some timing issues add to the problems, but then this is a large, almost run of the mill style restaurant now. Safe for the masses, and far from the over crowded and homey feel provided by both Sushi Wasabi and Furusato.