4323 Hazel Ave, Fair Oaks, CA 95628, (916) 961-2112

I'm probably one of the few Sacramentans that's never been a huge fan of the Mikuni Empire. The whole rock'n roll sushi motif has never appealed to me. I remember when the Hazel Mikuni's location was just a miniscule mom & pop operation, I liked it back then. The restaurant was simple and sans neon lights, sake bombs and the "Wheel O' Prizes." The food was the focus and wasn't overshadowed by the gaudy, gauche atmosphere that envelopes the restaurant these days. My last foray to Mikuni's was to the downtown location and I vowed never to return after not being able to hear my dinner companion over the din of the drunk, obnoxious clientele throughout the course of the entire meal. [Side note: I've been told that the downtown location is the loudest of the Mikuni facilities and that the other locations are milder in comparison. I can now attest that the Hazel location is more subdued...though not by much]

So I was a bit hesitant when coworkers persisted that I join them for some sushi during lunch. In the last two months, we've trekked over to the Hazel location a total of four times and I have to admit (to my surprise) all four times we have received excellent service and the food was delectable. If you go during lunchtime, be sure to get Adam as your waiter. He knows his food backwards & forwards and is terrific at offering recommendations. I appreciated the fact that he was personable and BS'd with us for awhile, but was cognizant of the fact that we were on a work lunch break with limited minutes, and had our food flowing at good speed. He made a recommendation for us to try the Tommy Roll (tempura shrimp mixed with a spicy avocado mixture & masago, packaged up in a soy wrap and topped off with spicy tuna & crab salad) and to have it modified "Adam style" which involved a dab of sriracha on the crown. (By the way, since that initial introduction to the "Adam Style," we have ordered this roll at that location with other waiters and they all are familiar with what "Adam style" consists of.) Additional hits at our table were the Marilyn Monroll (consisting of tempura shrimp, crab salad, avocado, scallops and masago), Tony 2 (tuna, yellow tail, eel, tempura shrimp, crab salad, avocado and masago) and lastly the Spicy Johnny (spicy tuna, deep fried shrimp, avocado, eel, masago & onion). The rolls can be much at times and I've found that their nigiri sushi is always fresh even to the most discriminating palate---my recs are the amaebi, hokki gai and mirugai. Don't forget to eat the shrimp heads with the amaebi!

Setting the sushi talk aside, Mikuni's serves up some excellent tuna apps and dishes as well. Try the BBQ tuna, the sea steak (with the white tuna) or my favorite the Pepperfin (thin slices of albacore tuna with a lemon, shoyu, chili oil sauce and sprinkled with jalapeno peppers.) I'm not a spicy food person and usually veer away from those dishes, but the pepperfin is positively orgasmic. The tuna just seems to dance across your taste buds then concludes it's boogie with a fiery bang. It's one of those dishes that will involuntarily cause you to smack your lips with pleasure after each flavorsome mouthful.

Being the b*tch that I am, I did feel compelled to take one "star" off for the stupid Wheel O' Prizes (this is a sushi RESTAURANT, not Pat Sajack's gameshow set afterall), the vile need to stuff avocado (I'm not a big fan of the green stuff) in EVERY roll and lastly that if you sit at the sushi counter it takes forever and a day to get your bill from the server.

So next time you go, grab Adam as your server, order up an ice- cold Kirin and grub on some won't be disappointed. Just remember to bring your ear plugs, because it does get a bit loud in there.
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