Thea | Mar 21, 200302:56 AM     14

Had a meal at Minako last week. Perhaps we ordered weirdly, but we were mostly disappointed. I would like to give it another chance, so would appreciate suggestions.

One thing is we weren't much in the mood for sushi, so didn't have much. Perhaps this is the strengh? We were thinking of ordering the kaiseki dinner, it was listed on the menu's we read while waiting at $20, but we found out it was now $30. We decided to pass. We didn't really feel like a dinner, just wanted a lot of tastes. We may have been better off with the kaiseki, because we spent $60 anyway, without knowing (more on this). This was way too much $$.

We ordered many dishes off the first sheet on the menu, that lists assorted small dishes, appetizers and salads. There are no prices on this menu. We asked about that and got the weird explanation that different vegetables are different sizes and even different people in the kitchen make thing in different sizes so they can't put the price on the menu, because they don't know if you will get the small or the large version. Hummm. We ordered things we wouldn't have if we saw the prices ($10 for the fried squid.)

There was a friendly waitperson who chatted with us and explained many things, and we felt like we trusted her but the dinner just didn't work out.

One of the biggest disappointments was the miso soup. My friend drank only 1/2 of hers and I just took a few sips; I tried to get into it, but it tasted strongly of cabbage. The bowls were removed without comment by a kitchen staff member. This was a waste of money. I asked the server (maybe an owner?) why it tasted like cabbage and she said they don't use dashi, they use cabbage and/or shiitake to flavor it. I wish I know that before I ordered it--it was gross and offensive tasting to me.

We had wakame salad that was nice. It was served on a plate with baby lettuces as well. Good, but we really like the wakame at Sanraku and it is better.

We had grilled tofu with a nice sweet sauce (sorry I forget which it was.) We liked it. It came on a iron griddle plate but it was not hot or sizzling, or seemed to be grilled. Wehile we finished it off, it made me realize that I really like soft tofu.

We had cucumber sunomono and ordered it with shrimp. The cuke semi slices were floating in lots of liquid and seemed a little tired. The shrimp were impeccable and perfectly lightly cooked and chilled.

The fried squid were giant rings, very, very tender but the batter was gummy and not very good. We only ate 1/2 of it. The server asked how we like it since she had never seen the kitchen make large squid. It didn't seem to register that we didn't like it. When your customers don't eat something you should buy a clue.

Another dish was the marinated tuna. The server explained that it was white tuna which is softer and she prefers it. My friend liked it but in my first bite I encountered some silverskin type tough strand and I put me off of it so I didn't eat anymore.

I have no idea why we ordered the deep fried crab sushi roll. It was crabcake and something and rice. All starch and greasy outside. What a mistake.

At $60 (drinks were only one cold saki and a soda), we could have enjoyed many other restaurants in the Valencia area, or really pigged out at one of the Sanraku's, which we really like.

However, I wanted to like this tiny spot that boasts of organic ingredients and graciously gives you a little spoonful of strawberry custard before the bill comes.

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