Two new sushi outlets are now open in the greater Tower District/Midtown area, and, despite their differences, each one is in the hands of a seasoned restaurateur.
Miso Sushi– Taking over the digs at 16th and Broadway wasn’t easy. What was supposed to be a quick renovation instead became a half-million dollar overhaul, says owner Roger Lee. As part owner of Silver Sake in Carmichael, Lee knows what it takes to get a restaurant off the ground. What he didn’t count on was the poor shape of the digs he was trying to move into. The previous occupant, Eddie Fong, lovingly ran a small breakfast operation out of the spot for years, but his rather cavalier attitude towards all things health code related didn’t exactly help arrest the decaying process in the already shaky building.
Well, Lee’s money and time have paid off. He and his partners have created a beautiful, relaxing space in the middle of the Broadway rat race. On each of three visits, the sushi has been top notch, although on our last visit, the orders didn’t exactly match the descriptions on the menu. The sushi at Miso is heads above Mana, which, at two blocks away is a pretty close sushi rival, though Mana still gets the nod when it comes to ramen. So, final assessment, Miso turns out to be a pretty darned good sushi joint. Check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.
Ju Hachi– From the same folks who brought you Taka’s in Fair Oaks comes Ju Hachi. It seems like it’s been decades since anyone was serving sushi out of this storefront, but it’s really been more like two years. The funny part is that in almost two years, they’ve not really done much to the interior. It’s a little better than the previous incarnation, but not by much.
I’m sure the delays in opening had little to do with interior design. Trying to unravel the naming rights/ownership issues/lukewarm feelings/sushi differences between the previous owners of Taka’s and the current owners of Zen Sushi on 15th Street and the new Ju Hachi at 18th and S is like trying to figure the root cause of the Thirty Years War. Was it territorial? Economic? Religious? Dynastic? Probably.
Having never been to the original Taka’s in Fair Oaks, I have no basis for comparison. So I will take Ju Hachi on its own merit. In my most recent visit the nigiri and the “Corbett Roll,” a roll of salmon, avocado and lemon, both turned out to be delicious. The “Double-T Roll” was another story. Described on the menu as “specially created for the Sushi Masters competition,” the Double-T was something of an enigma. Nowhere on the menu did it say that this roll actually won anything at the Sushi Masters (ominous sign) and beyond that brief description, no further information was given. Feeling adventurous, we went for it.
What arrived at our table was nothing even remotely resembling sushi. In fact, what it resembled was a spring roll. Think of a really boring sushi roll, maybe with tuna, crab salad, and avocado on the inside. You’ve got this pictured in your head? Good. Next, wrap the roll in wonton skins. I know, daring, isn’t it? Ok, here comes the clincher. Lower the heat on your fryolator until it’s barely warm, then drop the whole roll in. Let it swim in there for a while, not quite crisping up but instead soaking up enough grease to lube the tracks at the Cyclone at Coney Island. Serve. Ta-dah! You are now a sushi master.
I think it’s fair to say that Ju Hachi was hit and miss.
Miso Sushi– 16th & Broadway, Sacramento
Food*** Atmosphere**** Service***
Ju Hachi- 18th & S Streets, Sacramento
Food** Atmosphere** Service**