|Love all the family portraits|
As I've commented on a lot lately, I've been in Sacramento 25 years now. I found it interesting, then, that the first Mikuni restaurant, the original one in Fair Oaks, opened the year I arrived - 1987. This came to light as I listened to the patriarch of the family, Koki Arai, give a speech in Japanese, translated by his daughter.
Koki Arai was commenting a little on the history of the location, how they value their customers, have thrived over the years, and that the fire that happened last December was a blessing in disguise. Here was a chance for them to remodel the restaurant, using insurance money to do it. The remodel happened lickety split, in only 45 days time. Impressive.
My history with Mikuni is an odd one to be sure. I only started to eat sushi about eight years ago. My prior experience had been in college with a classmate making California rolls. I just didn't care for the sticky rice with the vinegar and then, of course, the raw fish. I moved to Sacramento and my ex-husband used to go to that first location all the time. It worked for me in that I would allow him to have his boys night out with his buddies because they would usually end up at Mikuni .
It's because of this that I knew of Mikuni's reputation and that of Taro. Anyone who is in the Sacramento food scene knows about Taro and I did too. I just never happened to meet him over these 25 years. Now, with the Sacramento Food Film Festival coming up next week and Mikuni being a major sponsor, I find myself having been introduced to him just last night and then seeing him five times in the span of the next ten days. Crazy.
And so it was that I was invited to the VIP reopening of the Fair Oaks location last night. I arrived late to find the place packed. I jumped into the buffet line to find a very impressive spread laid out all along the sushi bar - everything from edamame and sushi to ribs and lamb chops.
In the corner I caught the end of Koki's speech and then a grateful prayer. Taro was excitedly rushing through the restaurant greeting everyone and having a great time.
Then came the special surprise of a new painting done by David Garibaldi, the Sacramento artist who was a finalist on America's Got Talent. In came a long painting with Elvis and Michael Jackson with Taro in between.
It was a joyful evening for the Arai family, made even better by a jam packed month. Tomorrow (3/7) Taro is guest chef at Plates Cafe, an event that oversold tickets. Then he'll be at our sushi event at the Sacramento Food Film Festival next Friday, March 15th. Come join us for sushi from Mikuni and Kru and then watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi after, sponsored by Mikuni .