With all the recent hype of sushi restaurants opening in Orlando, it is almost very easy to disregard this little gem sitting quietly but graciously in a strip mall that houses the Orlando Police Department in Metrowest.
Quiet and quaint this little sushi joint has carved a niche for itself. It is a not big, flamboyant, trendy, coolest, latest, hippest place to be seen, with prices that can fly one to Japan and back. There is a real cozy feel that reminds me of the little holes in Sasebo, Japan, during my United States Naval stint. Where mamasan, papasan, and their kids took care of us like we were their own country men and women. All it takes is one visit and the staff, let me rephrase that, the family takes over and extends that gracious hospitality it takes to separate a good restaurant from a great restaurant. They are not razzle, dazzle, click your heels and bow, with the efficiency of a five star professional operation. However, they extend warm, genuine, sincere, gracious hospitality in every step of service.
Inside of the restaurant presents a clean, cozy, comforting, warm space. With hanging lights, soft woods, easy colors, a fish tank, tables, sushi bar, banquets, and booths. The booths offer semi privacy while the tables create a stage to showcase the wonders of these very precise and thoughtful chefs.
There seems to be a ton of sushi chefs in Orlando who all claim that their sushi is the freshesh and the best. Some even go so far as to say, even publicize in print, that their fish is flown in daily from Tsikiji Fish Market in Japan. Seriously! Who are you kidding…or lying to…or trying to impress? We are not in Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco, we are in Orlando, Florida. Come on. Show us the freight bill. Not. Have the health department come knocking to check the delivery invoice to see if it reads “Delivered Frozen or Fresh Frozen” and had to educate you about parasite destruction before serving raw fish? It has to be deep frozen before serving sashimi style, that is, in the raw. The sushi chefs at Mikado humbly tend to their craft and let the food speak for them.
To enjoy this beauty, mix it all up or nibble one morsel at a time. I prefer the whole experience so I mix it all together and then drink the sauce. No I don’t. But I would like to. Perfect balance of citrus, sweet, tangy, spiciness. The silky texture of the avocado adds a whole different flavor profile to the raw tuna. Excellent combination.
Duck Roll—duck strips, cucumber, scallions, wrapped in a thin pancake; served with hoisin sauce.
Nice spin on the traditional peking duck. Thin strips of duck eaten with a bun, dipped in hoisin sauce. Surprising how duck and vegetables wrapped in pancake can work so well. Great roll. Nice textures all working in harmony.
BBQ Whole Squid—grilled whole squid with chef’s special sauce.
Very few, if any, restaurants in Orlando serves this dish. The squid tastes like it was just plucked from the ocean, skinned, dipped in soy sauce, grilled, cut and served. It is fresh, crunchy, chewy, and full of flavor. The dipping sauce of sweet soy and citrus adds just enough moisture to make the pieces succulent without drowning the squid flavor. The smokiness from the grill could easily invoke a feeling one gets from watching an episode of Andrew Zimmern: Bizarre Foods.
No name, because this is what happens when one lets the chefs use their creative talents. Pad dow! Amazing…Fresh, clean, light flavors all combine to make a wow summer mouth party. The use of kimchee to add another dimension to ponzu sauce was brilliant. Great roll, put it on the menu. Their makimenu is not very basic and neither over the top. It is a good combination. Far too many restaurants use California Roll as a base and just top with several different combinations to create more rolls. That is a very lazy and dull way to build a menu. Then there are those who go so over the top that the flavors just don’t work and the rolls looks like a pile of crap. Sushi like everything Japanese is about the subtleness of balanced flavors. Mikado has achieved this balance on their rolls.
Trio Sashimi—5 pieces of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail sashimi. I changed up this combination to include mackerel.
The true knife skills of a sushi chef is gauged by how he cuts fish. Ancient philosophy determines proper techniques of slicing. A true sushi chef cuts from the back of the knife to the front leaving no crushing tear marks on the fish. The fish is also cut across the grain to provide the best possible taste profile. Respect the fish. At Mikado, these guys pay homage and give respect to the fish. Few sushi chefs take the time to add scallions and finely grated ginger when serving mackerel. They do. They will even advise against ordering uni when it is not so fresh. And you ask, why do they still keep it? Well, it is not spoil nor bad, just not fresh. Uni is delivered to a restaurant refrigerated ready for consumption, as time passes the freshness and firmness deteriorates. Some people can handle the more off putting smell of uni as it goes staler, some cannot. I prefer my uni fresh and would definitely send it back if it was not. There is definitely a point where the uni tissues breakdown to form mush and the smell is horrifying. Time to 86 uni. I am of the school that if something is not fresh do not serve it. These chefs definitely remembers me sending back their not so fresh uni, so now I am advised before I order. Nice right. The fish here is fresh, clean, odorless, firm, and at the correct room temperature with an ever so slight hint of coldness. This is how sashimi should be served.
Mikado Boat—10 pieces of sushi, 20 pieces of sashimi, 1 Mikado Roll, and 1 Rainbow Roll.
A boat load of goodness. The presentation and adherence to freshness shows in every piece on this combination.
This sake is served in a wine sized glass. The modern take on sake is to aerate the sake like a fine wine to bring out its subtle flavors. Most sakes are served from a smaller shot glass. Either way works well. Personal preference, quality of sake, and different schools of thought prevails. The flavor profile is bold with medium density and a smooth lingering finish. The dryness and richness compliments raw fish excellently. The sake selection is lacking in variety and scale. There are basic wine varieties and selections that rounds out the menu. This is still a simple restaurant that focuses on the food and service.
Mikado Sushi has another location in Hunters Creek. The Orlando location has built a reputation of consistent, friendly, genuine service, and superb food quality. The feeling one gets here is like going to someone’s home and being fed and treated like a family member. When a restaurant has achieved this level of humbleness it deserves to be frequented.