I only learned to eat sushi about five years ago. Until then I had tried it once or twice and was unimpressed and a bit grossed out. This meant that when I was married, my husband got to use sushi as a reason for boys night out. Fine by me. I believe in spouses having time alone with their friends.
Then I was introduced to a fancy roll at the now closed Dragonfly. I liked it. From there I learned that I like combo rolls for the complexity of textures, flavors, and ingredients. It's the traditional sushi and sashimi where it's just a slab of raw fish on a rice ball that I don't care for.
The somewhat funny thing is that now it seems that when it's my birthday my ex and I go out for sushi, usually at Mikuni's. In fact, the last three years we have. I know because Mikuni's always does a birthday deal like spinning a prize wheel downtown or playing birthday blackjack at Taro's last night. So far I've 'won' a bottle of soy sauce, a baseball cap, and, last night, a free Arden Roll card for my next visit.
Last night we went to Taro's where, I thought, my ex had been many times. He knows Taro well and he and his best friend often get the special Taro treatment when they go out. Turns out he had never been to Taro's and Taro usually is at Mikuni's and not his own namesake restaurant. Regardless, we decided to sit down at the sushi bar where we were greeted by Terry behind it and by Milo as our server. We sat down and chatted and Terry overheard our discussion of my birthday, we did not mention it to him, and he quickly wished me a happy birthday and teased me about turning 21. This attentiveness was appreciated. He quickly gave us edamame to nibble on and a plate of wasabi and ginger for later while Milo took our drink orders.
Taro's Hokkaido Scallops
We started with the Hokkaido Scallops - lightly pan seared on a rice ball with sweet scallop sauce, snow crab legs, jalapenos, green onions and black tobiko caviar. There was the sweetness from the scallops and sauce coupled with the spicy hit from the jalapeno. Very good.
I chose two large rolls to share. The first was the Train Wreck shown at top. It had shrimp tempura, spicy avocado, crab mix, and topped with chopped unagi, sea steak, sesame seeds, and onions. It was a monstrous thing. I admit that I like to have either shrimp or soft shell crab in the middle because I like the dense cooked texture or 'bite'. It gives the roll substance. This roll was generously topped with the chopped unagi and sea steak and so there were bits that dropped off and were enjoyed on their own.
Taro's Benjamin Roll
The other roll was the Benjamin and had shrimp tempura and crab salad inside and was topped with avocado, eel, sea steak, special sauce, torched, and then garnished with jalapeno, masago and onion. Although it had similar ingredients to the Train Wreck, it was a totally different flavor experience - lighter and with the spicy bit of jalapeno.
By this time I was stuffed and couldn't even contemplate dessert. They brought out the deck of cards for my birthday blackjack. If you pull two aces you get a $100 gift certificate. I pulled a king, 2, and then a 7 for a total of 19. I decided to stay and take the sushi card because I wasn't interested in a shot glass or t-shirt if I went for it.
Overall it was another nice birthday at a Mikuni restaurant. I guess it classifies as a tradition for me now.