Thanks to Pablo's assured rec, hubby and I finally made it down to Miyuki on Fri. night. For those of you who have tired of my whinings about disappointing sushi in this area (aside from Sushi on the Run, Aptos), rest assured that this report will be different. Miyuki satisfied my palate and soul...
Got there around 7:30pm and the small place was just half full. I get an immediate sense of any new place that I walk into, and even though they weren't packed, the spirit was jovial and welcoming on a drizzly night.
Had planned to sit at the sushi bar, but unfortunately, 2 of the 3 seats were taken. It was merely a tiny countertop, but I could tell that it was conducive to some good interaction w/ "Chief"--what they call the main sushi chef and I'm assuming proprietor. Chief has quite a presence even from behind the counter, and he had no problems keeping up even though his eyes often darted to the NCAA game on his mounted TV monitor.
So we easily grab a table and order our usual hot green tea. I remembered Pablo's urging to ask about the specials, so that's the first thing we did. Regular menu has your typical apps, udon, teriyaki, and donburi. Bento box specials at lunch. Sushi menu was surprisingly varied, and I was impressed that they only used Japanese fish terms in a place where dumbing down would be expected. Speaks to an element of tradition that I look for...
In the end, we order every special mentioned and then some. I guess I had felt so deprived of good sushi in Santa Cruz that we ordered only sushi w/ no restraints--the more exotic, the better. Upon reflection, our menu wasn't the most well-rounded, but was absolutely satisfying.
What we ordered: tataki (seared albacore) appetizer, oysters on the half shell, spicy scallop roll, variety of nigiri (amaebi, hamachi, mirugai, unagi, uni, pickled daikon). Standouts were the tataki appetizer--barely seared albacore that was wonderfully dressed w/ vinegary sliced onions, fine scallions, shiso leaf, red spicy paste, and a light ponzu sauce. Everything harmonized in my mouth and I esp. loved the shiso element. Amaebi nigiri (delicate, butterflied raw shrimp w/ a large, deep-fried shrimp head alongside) was amazing and much better than its rubbery cooked counterpart that one usually sees. A bit pricey at nearly $7 for two pieces though. Hamachi, mirugai (clam), and uni were all delicious too. Ended up being one of our more pricey meals in the area at $52 before tip, but worth every penny IMO for quality of seafood and thoughtful preparations. Consider this the ceiling cost for a meal there.
The space itself is rather plain and unattractive, but the abundant yet genuine warmth from the staff really makes up for it. We were taken aback during the middle of our meal when the lights suddenly went out, a disco ball in the middle of the room began to twirl and sparkle, and the staff encouraged patrons to sing "happy birthday" to a guest as cake was whisked out. Hilarious...this happened a second time shortly thereafter. They obviously have established a strong set of regulars, and they can now add us to that list. I may be reading into things, but Chief gave us a very knowing goodbye and nod that made me think I might hit him up for a special omakase one day.
452 E Lake Ave
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