Miyabi is a new sushi bar and grill which had a soft opening in early July. Located in a small strip mall right off of West Taron Court, near Elk Grove Boulevard and the Stonelake neighborhood after you get off Interstate 5, it is a hidden gem of a place. Miyabi is the Japanese word to describe a refined and elegant aesthetic, and the food certainly lives up to that description.
When you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by the staff in cheerful unison. The first thing you see is the sushi bar, where up to four chefs work behind the counter. All the ingredients for sushi making are on display behind a glass partition.
Dark wooden chairs line the blond wood bar, taking up about a third of the tiny space. Two flat-screen TV screens behind the sushi bar seem a bit incongruous with the simple but refined setting, but they are usually muted.
On one wall is displayed the letters, DBK – which stand for the first names of the three owners. D is for Daisy Yip, the house manager, B is for Brian Hooyn, and K is for King Liang, both sushi chefs.
Dark wood seems to be the theme of the small restaurant, with wood paneled walls broken up by select pieces of art. Dark wooden tables with matching chairs take up the remaining space.
There is a somewhat private room located right near the entrance, separated by a “wall” of wooden slats. A traditional noren, or cloth divider, hangs over the entrance to the private room. A wooden bench is situated right outside the private room for waiting guests. During the day, it can be a bit dark inside, but at night, with the lights turned up, the restaurant has an intimate, cozy feel.
The place settings are an elegant matched set consisting of a plate, a small rectangular sauce dish, and a pair of metal tipped chopsticks (no wooden chopsticks here!). And your water comes in its own stoppered bottle, along with a stemmed water glass.
This is a sushi restaurant, so it’s no surprise that the main menu consists of different kinds of sushi. There are offerings of nigiri , sashimi , maki , and temaki . The daily specials are noted on a white board behind the sushi bar.
However, the largest selection is in the sushi rolls, where you can find the familiar California roll, the spider roll, and at least two dragon rolls. There are also ones with more unusual names, like High 5 (spicy salmon tempura, albacore and jalapeno) and OMG (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, salmon).
The Sacramento sushi roll has one of the more interesting mix of ingredients: soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado, tuna, salmon, hamachi, albacore, and honey walnuts. And then there is the house special, the DBK, which has snow crab salad, avocado, unagi, chopped tuna mixed with garlic, tobiko and micro sprouts.
There are also three vegetarian roll options: the Vegan, the Forever Green, and the Priscilla. Asparagus is used in all three, while cucumbers and avocados are in the Vegan and the Priscilla. The Priscilla is the only one that uses steamed vegetables – the others have tempura.
Meat lovers can always order bento boxes, which comes with soup, salad and rice, or donburi . There are also ramen and udon options. The meats include chicken, beef and pork.
Seafood aficionados don’t have to limit themselves to sushi , either. There are at least nine other entrees available, ranging from poke salad to grilled salmon.
Appetizers run the gamut from edamame to soft-shell crab, and for dessert, there are mochi, macaroons and ice cream. Oddly, there is no alcohol served at the restaurant, so tea, water and soda are your only choices. You will have to go elsewhere for beer or sake. However, this is often the case with new restaurants trying to obtain a liquor license.
What I Had
I went alone for an early dinner on a Friday night, so I had no trouble getting seated immediately. I was placed at the sushi bar, right in front of Sushi Chef King Liang’s work station. Curious to see what he could do, I ordered the Omakase Nigiri, or chef’s choice.
When he finally presented the final platter to me (there were 10 pieces), I was even more impressed with his work. Each morsel was perfectly seasoned – no need to dip in soy sauce or add wasabi – and the fish and shellfish were all wonderfully fresh.
I pretty much used up my supply of ginger to cleanse my palate between each piece, prompting King to ask me if I need more. Each morsel of Nigiri was a bite of pure seafood goodness enhanced with the sushi rice. The only time I needed anything more was when I tackled the Ama Ebi (shrimp head). It came resting on a bed of wasabi, which didn’t work for me. King promptly poured me out a saucer of ponzu, a citrus dipping sauce, which I used to finish off the piece.
I felt a little guilty staying at the sushi bar after I finished off my platter, so I asked King if he could recommend one of the daily specials. He did, suggesting that I try the Otoro. He promised me it would melt in my mouth, which it did when I bit into the first Nigiri piece. The other morsel followed swiftly afterwards, creating a mouthful of Otoro bliss.
King then suggested that I try something more “Asian” and asked if I liked unagi . I told him I did, and he proposed that I try the Anago. I would have wait five minutes, as it is served cooked, not raw. When the pieces came, they were slightly warm. King had drizzled some sort of sauce over the unagi. They tasted somewhat sweet – a perfect ending to my meal, with no need for dessert!
I noticed that I was one of the few people at the sushi bar who ordered Nigiri. Most of the other customers ordered different kinds of sushi rolls, bento boxes and other entrees. At one point, I took a pic of King holding a freshly made Chirashi Don (sashimi over rice).
Now that I have experienced a sampling of what King can do with Nigiri, I would probably like to try some of the other dishes to see how well they are done by the other chefs. Despite the soft opening, the restaurant quickly filled while I had my meal. There was no line, as it appears that everyone was able to get seated as soon as they arrived. It seemed that food was served in a timely manner, as all four chefs were constantly busy behind the counter.
Even the private room was filled when I left. I don’t know how crowded it will be once the restaurant has its hard opening next week. Prices are reasonable, so you don’t have to break the bank in order to have a very nice meal. Essentially, you get a very good value for the prices.
King urged me to spread the word about Miyabi, saying that once I had sushi there, I would not want to go anywhere else. I can’t say that it’s THE best place for sushi that I’ve ever been to, but it can easily become my favorite.
2513 W. Taron Court, Ste. 120
Elk Grove, CA 05757-8417