SouthFlorida.com
Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Review: Mikan Japanese Restaurant pursues perfection in Pembroke Pines

Review: Mikan Japanese Restaurant in Pembroke Pines.

 

★★★★

"Balance" is the word we kept using to describe our dinner at Mikan Japanese Restaurant in Pembroke Pines. Whether it was from the sushi bar or the kitchen, an appetizer or an entrée, the food from this fairly new (well, new to Broward County) restaurant is made with sure and experienced hands.

Those hands belong to executive chef and owner Seiji "Ike" Ikemizu, who closed the same-named Miami location in 2014 after 18 years and opened this Pembroke Pines eatery later that year. It is a family operation, with his wife managing the restaurant, his sons helping as chefs and his daughter handling marketing and filling in as a server.

"The key in making good sushi is having the right amount of sushi vinegar in your sushi rice," Ikemizu explains in an email. "The 'su' in 'sushi' translates to 'vinegar' in Japanese. We make our sushi vinegar in-house. The chefs make the sushi vinegar by adding salt, soy sauce, sugar and dashi kombu [a type of kelp/seaweed] and warming it up. Once it comes down to room temperature, the sushi vinegar is done. This is then added to the rice."

Ikemizu says they also make most of their sauces, including the ponzu, tempura and teriyaki. That would explain the beautiful blend of flavors in so many dishes at Mikan. The appetizers reflected the staff's adept touch with sauces, particularly in the tangy pork belly special ($5), light-as-air shrimp tempura and perfect pork dumplings. One fellow diner tried the more adventurous and surprisingly delicate starter aji tataki ($14), a horse mackerel reportedly flown in from Japan every Friday that is then cut by Ikemizu into sashimi slices and topped with ground ginger and scallions. Once our tablemate finished the sashimi, the bones left on the plate were taken back to the kitchen, lightly fried and returned for a "second act," a dish called "karaage." Also sitting in those housemade sauces and executed with sculptural skill was an appetizer sampler ($11) of tuna yukke, salmon carpaccio, tuna tataki, yellowtail jalapeño and seaweed salad.

For entrees, we ordered from the sushi bar the yellowtail jalapeño roll ($7), the mango tango roll ($15) and the fried oyster roll ($8), all of them in perfect proportions when it came to flavors, nothing dominating, nothing disappearing. That balance was also extended to the donburi bowls (uncommon in most Japanese restaurants in the region), specifically the yakiniku don ($9), stir-fried beef and vegetables over rice, and the katsu don ($11), breaded and deep-fried pork and onion omelet over rice. But that flavor equilibrium really had its ta-dah moment with the beef teriyaki ($16), a broiled New York strip with the house teriyaki sauce, yummy beyond all expectations and popular with the entire table.

In that spirit of sharing, we probably could have done with just the cheesecake tempura ($6), split among us since it included four small portions of the cheesecake, sprinkled with powdered sugar with a large mound of ice cream in the middle and topped with whipped cream and drizzled chocolate. But we greedily also ordered Thai donuts ($5) and tempura ice cream ($5). All the desserts were crispy and decadent.

There is a feeling of authenticity to Mikan, where dishes are not overwhelmed by the sauces, as is so often the case with Japanese restaurants pandering to Western tastes. It was refreshing to sample fare more in line with the less-is-more concept in Japanese culture.

Mikan Japanese Restaurant

12502 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines

954-432-7775, MikanSushi.com

Cuisine: Japanese

Cost: Moderate

Hours: Noon-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (10:30 p.m. Friday); 1 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 1-10 p.m. Sunday

Reservations: Suggested for parties of five or more

Credit cards: All major

Bar: Beer, wine and sake

Sound level: Conversational

Outside smoking: Yes

For kids: Highchairs, boosters

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Parking: Free lot

Copyright © 2017, South Florida
68°