It’s been quite a while since I’ve come across any great Japanese restaurants, but this weekend me and my family happened to dine at an incredible, authentic Japanese place which I’ll review in this post.
Mikan Japanese Restaurant (http://www.mikansushi.com/) is a newly opened restaurant in Pembroke pines, not too far from the Trader Joe’s grocery store which also just opened. Though Mikan has only been open for a few months, we spoke to the Owner briefly who told us he had another restaurant of the same name in downtown Miami for 17 years after which he decided to move to this location. The place is fairly small, but with very nice decor – the lighting of the sushi bar was particularly memorable. The word ‘Mikan’ (usually written in hiragana as みかん, sometimes in kanji as 蜜柑), means “mandarin orange” in Japanese.
A long-time study of Japanese language, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the waitresses gave us a welcoming “Irasshaimase”, with quite good pronunciation (I say this because some restaurants have adopted this customary greeting even though few, if any of them, actually speak Japanese). This waitress happened to be Russian and had lived for some time in Japan. She spoke to us completely in Japanese the entire time, and was very nice to our young son.
The owner himself is Japanese, something which is surprisingly rare in South Florida Japanese restaurants, and we spoke to him briefly in Japanese. The other waitress who took our order was also Japanese and spoke to us in Japanese most of the time. I emphasize the linguistic element here not only because I enjoyed it, but because it was the first time I’ve been to a Japanese restaurant in Florida where there were three fluent Japanese speakers.
As for the actual cuisine, there was a large variety of authentic-looking Japanese dishes, some of which had words I’ve never heard of before (ex: Motsuyaki – chicken liver). But not to worry, old standards like Teriyaki, Tempura, Chiken Katsu, and of course many types of Sushi were all available.
I went for a risky choice – the Miso Ramen. I say risky because I’ve had Ramen several times in the area, and every time was a disappointment (don’t get me started on the horrible “Cinnamon Ramen” we had in Boca). But I was pleasantly surprised when I got a large bowl of fresh noodles, traditional toppings like bamboo shoots and narutomaki (fish cake that always remind me of little erasers), and well-seasoned pork. The broth was also very flavorful.
My wife got the Pork Ginger Bento box, which tasted great, and our son had a Natto Sushi roll. We rounded out the meal with an order of the “amaebi” Shrimp Sushi where part of the shrimp was used for a typical ‘nigiri’ style (with the shrimp laid upon rice) and the rather large head was served separately in Tempura style.
I dared to take a bite into one of the whole shrimp and was greeted with a crunchy, complex texture.
We finished our meal with an assortment of mochi ice cream balls: azuki red bean, green tea, and vanilla. These were pretty typical of other places but tasted great nontheless.
Prices were pretty reasonable for this type of place, but honestly with a belly fully of great food I didn’t care much about the bill.
All in all highly recommended!