Zen Gem

“I’m going to a sushi place in Piqua,” I announced to some friends over coffee the morning of my visit. “There’s a sushi place in Piqua?” was my friends’ response. Indeed there is, and it’s worth a trip. The first thing that impressed me about my visit to Mikado Sushi and Hibachi was the aesthetically […]

Piqua’s Pick: Mikado Sushi and Hibachi

Mikado’s beautifully presented Sushi and Sashimi combo tastes every bit as good as it looks.

By Paula Johnson

“I’m going to a sushi place in Piqua,” I announced to some friends over coffee the morning of my visit. “There’s a sushi place in Piqua?” was my friends’ response. Indeed there is, and it’s worth a trip. The first thing that impressed me about my visit to Mikado Sushi and Hibachi was the aesthetically pleasing, well designed interior space. The strip mall exterior is generic and unremarkable, but inside is a different vibe entirely. Mikado’s entrance opens to an elegant reception stand at the front of a small dining area. The walls are paneled in a sleek wavy textured ceramic tile, with cool blue pendant lights suspended from the dark ceiling. The controlled color pallet creates a space that has a Zen peaceful quality to it, relaxing and pleasing to the eye. The small space is on the narrow side with booths lining the walls and a single column of tables in the center. PIP (Palate In Progress) and I settled into one of the booths for a sushi summit. Would we discover the same attention to detail with what we would be served? Read on, dear reader.

Tuna Tales
We started with recommendations from our enthusiastic server, Conrad. At his urging we added the Tuna Spoon appetizer ($9.95) and the Tuna Martini ($8.95) to my choices of the Yellowtail Jalapeno ($8.95) and steamed Shumai ($4.95). I’m glad we took his advice. The Martini featured a generous heap of cubed tuna and avocado peppered with tobiko in a glass lined with scallops of sliced lemon, looking as lovely as a flower. Whimsical describes the Tuna Spoon, actually a line of six bright red flat bottom soup spoons lined up on a rectangular white platter like soldiers. A slice of tuna in a little pool of ponzu, wrapped around a filling of sweet lobster salad accented with tobiko and fried wonton for crunch, topped with a jalapeno slice? How could that NOT be delicious? Also noteworthy was the Yellowtail with ponzu sauce.

It Matters How You Slice It
PIP’s choice for dinner is always a sushi platter, and in this case, it was Mikado’s Sushi and Sashimi Combo ($23.95), five pieces of assorted sushi, nine pieces of sashimi, and a really tasty spicy tuna roll. What makes good sushi? Of course, freshness and quality of fish are paramount, and the skill of slicing the fish is imperative. The way a fish is sliced changes its taste and texture, and each fish requires a chef to have the knowledge to treat each accordingly to bring out the best qualities of that individual fish.

Then there’s the rice, equal in importance to the fish. Temperature, acidity (the amount of vinegar used), texture, doneness, evenness of mold, consistency of pieces—these are all factors that sushi rice is judged on. If you’ve tasted supermarket sushi right out of the refrigerated case you’ll note it’s sticky, starchy, gloppy, and flavorless—exactly what the rice in a fresh piece of sushi isn’t. And in Mikado’s case, we found both the rice and the fish to be quite good. As well as artistically presented on the plate, as previously noted with the sushi bar appetizers. There’s so much pleasure and delight with food that’s presented in this way, and the Japanese tradition of food presentation as art is unrivaled. Then there’s the price. PIP and I both noted that $23.95 was a great value, and didn’t seem enough for what was served.

In the interest of trying a range of what’s offered at Mikado, I went with a traditional hibachi-style dinner, which included vegetables, two jumbo shrimp, clear soup, a salad, and fried rice or noodles. I had the Twin Lobster Tail ($26.95), a great value for a lobster entree. A good hibachi dinner is a favorite of mine. It’s a venerable Japanese-American hybrid style of cuisine popularized here in the US in the 50s. The true name for hibachi is teppanyaki, which translates roughly to “grilling on an iron plate.” A traditional hibachi grill features an open grate for cooking food, while a teppanyaki grill is a flat, solid griddle. Over the years, the two terms have become interchangeable, with hibachi emerging as the most popular. Either way, Mikado did an outstanding job with the vegetables, which were crisp, the tasty hunks of lobster (and shrimp), and the excellent fried rice.

Next time I would like to try one of the noodle entrees mentioned on the menu, or the fried Katsudon which caught my eye. Of course, I will still begin with a selection of sushi bar appetizers regardless of what entree I choose. And some à la carte sushi pieces. Do the folks in Piqua know how lucky they are to have this little gem in their town? I hope they do, and I hope non-Piqua peeps will make the trek to Mikado as well.

Mikado Sushi and Hibachi
1574 Covington Ave., Piqua 45356
937-606-2567, www.mikadopiqua.com

Cuisine: 48/50
Value: 25/25
Service: 24/25
Total Rating: 97

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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