Over the weekend, I went out with JJ to shop for a baby crib for her son (my godson) and a few other items. I’ve gone shopping for baby stuff with JJ before and of course purchased gifts for the many baby showers I attend but every time I head into Babies R Us and co., I am stunned by how expensive children are – I’m not sure I can ever afford to have children! One day I will have to ask JJ to do a guest post on baby shopping tips etc. But since I’m not an expert on babies – I only buy cute and fun things,which is what my job as “auntie” and “godmother” entails for now – let’s move on to our lunch at Mikado.
Before I developed a love for taste adventures, I visited the downtown Mikado location and was shocked to learn that Japanese food involved more than California rolls, raw fish and (don’t judge me – I was young) Edo. I probably haven’t set foot in the downtown location since the South Edmonton Common branch opened up. I really like the south side location since it is much larger than the downtown one and closer to home. The decor is pretty contemporary although they still have the tatami rooms available (shoe removal required) and also private rooms with tables and chairs. We were out in the restaurant area but it was still nice and comfortable with banquettes along one side of the table. During our university days, JJ and I attended multiple birthday and holiday parties held at Mikado but it’s been a while since we’ve had lunch together there.
I had a small case of hungry eyes so everything on the menu sounded great but we decided to not go with bento boxes and ordered a number of dishes to share. For appetizers, we went with the beef tataki, deep fried tofu and seaweed salad.
I am normally the person who orders their steak medium/medium well because the sight of blood grosses me out (I know – I have just completely ruined my steak!) so I’ve always been a little leery of beef tataki (beef that is quickly seared on the outside over a hot flame/pan with a raw middle). Shockingly enough, I really enjoyed this and probably ate more of it than JJ (o_O). The beef was thinly sliced and very tender with a beef flavor that didn’t make me feel like I was eating raw meat. I think the fact that is has been marinating in vinegar/ponzu sauce is what helped me over the “I am consuming raw beef” hump. I also love ceviche so apparently marinating raw stuff in citrus makes it ok/cooked(?) in my books.
The seaweed salad is a personal favorite of mine and I like to order at every sushi joint I visit. It’s a very small bowl of seaweed mixed with vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and topped with sesame seeds. I am sure there are other ingredients depending on the chef but I like the sweet and vinegar-y flavor it has. I am even experimenting with making it myself so I can get my fix whenever I need to.
The deep fried tofu is another dish that I love to order. The tofu was awesome – it was nicely fried and the tofu was silky. The shredded seaweed and tempura sauce just gave it a little extra texture and flavour. I was just sad that there are only 6 or 7 pieces in one order (I wanted more).
Our main dishes were an order of dragon eyes and a plate of sashimi. The dragon eyes are a roll that has a middle consisting of salmon and green onion (the eye?) surrounded by rice which is then lightly fried. I think that Mikado was the first place that started serving dragon eyes although similar versions have popped up at other places. There is a sauce the accompanies the roll and I am pretty sure it’s a mayo based sauce with some form of chili sauce mixed in as it does have a little bit of a kick to it. I enjoyed the roll itself but I found that amount of sauce to roll ratio a little overwhelming. When you picked up a piece, the bottom had a thick layer of sauce attached and it was just little too much, so I ended scraping most of it off.
I don’t really like eating raw fish because certain textures bother me, for instance, I never eat tuna as I find it chewier (?) than other types of fish. It took a long time to transition from no raw fish to surf clams to salmon and octopus, but now there’s always a few items that I enjoy on the sashimi plates. Our Mikado sashimi came with salmon, tuna, octopus, squid and what I think is mackerel. I only sampled the salmon, squid and octopus but they were fresh tasting and not fishy at all. JJ said the same about the makerel and tuna so thumbs up Mikado on using good quality fish.
And finally we had dessert! We tried the sakura mochi which is a spring special that runs from April to the end of May. I’ve never had sakura mochi before although I’ve read about it/seen it on tv. Whenever I think of mochi, I think of the smooth, sticky rice flour balls with red bean filling inside. I was expecting something similar but just wrapped in the sakura leaf. I was pleasantly surprised to see that mochi texture is actually little grains of rice and the sakura leaf is on the salty side which really balances out the sweetness of the red bean paste. I really liked the mochi so I might pop back just to have one of these – it’s definitely worth a try if you’re at Mikado in the next few weeks.
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
We grabbed a second order of dragon eyes for JJ’s mom who was babysitting while we went shopping, but our total (pre-tip) was $74, so this was a pretty expensive lunch – even if we subtract the extra order of dragon eyes, it still works out to ~$35/person when all is said and done. Itemized cost breakdown of this lunch (yikes):
- Beef tataki – $9.95
- Seaweed salad – $4.95
- Deep fried tofu – $5.95
- Dragon eyes (x2) – $23.90
- Sashimi plate (14 pieces) – $17.95
- Sakura mochi (x2) – $5.00
Nearly everything we ordered is on the cold/raw side, thus it’s nowhere near as filling as rice based items like the rolls and sushi. So don’t let the cost of our lunch scare you into avoiding Mikado, you can definitely have lunch for much less by grabbing items like the bento boxes or sharing a few of the rolls/sushi. A bento box will come in on average around $15 and depending on the type of rolls – they range from $7 – $15. You could probably also avoid the appetizers like the deep fried tofu and seaweed salad since they are way cheaper to make at home and in much larger quantities too (should take my own advice right?)! At the end of the day, if I’m in the area and looking for sushi, I would probably go back to Mikado for lunch but for the sake of my wallet – I am going to order more filling items or go in for a super light lunch aka an expensive snack?