TV with your sushi
Miso Japanese Cuisine1517 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818
So, another sushi place. I kind of don’t even know what to say about that: We have lots of them here in Sacramento, but our appetite for more would seem to be insatiable based on the sheer amount of them that open. Miso Japanese Cuisine on Broadway—a fairly thorough renovation of former dive Eddy’s—is not even the only one on my list of places to get to, but that’s something for another day.
As mentioned, Miso has been revamped from the former tenant, but the idiosyncratic, vaguely deco exterior with swinging doors and curved corners, remains. Inside, there’s a sushi bar, a couple of low-tabled tatami rooms with sunken seating areas (perhaps they should more accurately be described as fauxtami rooms), a dining room and TVs. Lots and lots of TVs; pretty much anywhere you sit, you are facing one or directly below one or both. Since they’re not all turned to the same thing, or weren’t when we visited, this can be pretty profoundly distracting, but it does keep you from having to, I don’t know, carry on a conversation with your tablemates. Aside from the TVs, the décor includes an illuminated ceiling niche, lit in soft blue and red, those ceramic cats and a large number of dolls in kimonos—ideal to point out to a small child, should your party include one.
The menu includes little you couldn’t find at a dozen other sushi joints in town: rainbow roll, spider roll, Philly roll. An exception is the most unfortunately and sophomorically named I Got the CRABS roll (yes, in all caps), which comprises tempura soft-shell crab, spicy crab mix and avocado, as well as several things named for the area where the restaurant sits: the Tower Records roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, snow crab, avocado), for instance. You’ll also find the usual smattering of other stuff: some teriyaki, an udon bowl, donburi adorned with a mix of proteins, bento box combos, various appetizers, sashimi and nigiri.
The latter, I confess, seemed a bit perfunctory: When I asked about specials or what kind of fish they might have in that was unusual or extra fresh, the server just said, “Oh, it’s all fresh,” but offered no further insights about the lineup, even after she asked the sushi chef. Their apathy didn’t really inspire me to order more, though I ended up trying some albacore toro—perfectly nice, though less meltingly buttery than toro I’ve had.
A beautiful looking order of tuna tataki—flash-fried outside for a thin layer of sear, but deep red inside the slices—was drowning in a mayo-ey sauce so that it was difficult to taste the tuna itself. The bed of shredded daikon it all came on added a nice note of pungency and a textural contrast.
Preceding this were some edamame (which were unsurprisingly mediocre) and bowls of miso soup (ditto; it seems like a restaurant named Miso would add something a little extra to its miso soup, but I suppose the point is to be plain and simple. Anyway, it was savory and salty and all that).
We ordered a bento box with a two-item combination of chicken teriyaki and gyoza. The latter were deep-fried but not too greasy, fairly juicy and gingery inside, with a nice, complex spicy-hot dipping sauce. The chicken teriyaki was the opposite: fairly flavorless, with a thin sauce and thin-cut pieces of meat that tended slightly toward dryness.
The rolls we ordered—the Sneaky Devil and the Rainbow II roll—tasted all but indistinguishable: not spicy, despite the presence of spicy tuna (and totally lost-on-me spicy snow crab in the Sneaky Devil), but just a mishmash of fish flavor, tobiko and mushy textures, plus some sauce lurking around. The Rainbow II had shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, tuna, salmon, hamachi and ebi in addition to the bit of spicy tuna, but it was all overwhelmed by the shrimp tempura in the middle, with a thick wedge of fried batter similar in texture and taste to Styrofoam. The invasion of the shrimp tempura is something that seems to take place in all new sushi restaurants; the rolls here are no exception—nearly all seem to play around with the same ingredients, varying them only slightly, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that I could scarcely tell the rolls apart.
Aside from the food, there’s a small beer list and even smaller wine and sake lists; an Asahi went well with the sushi and was refreshing, but there’s not much more choice than that. All in all, Miso is the kind of place to go if you live in the neighborhood and need an “I’m too tired to travel” sushi takeout joint: There’s nothing much really wrong with it, and in my opinion, it’s slightly less mediocre than its closest sushi competitor (Mana Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, on the other side of Broadway), but it’s more of a fallback option than a spot to seek out.