Arai’s Showplace Promises To Be Jewel In Mikuni’s Crown

All they need do is ask Kotaro “Taro” Arai to prepare the $200 “Ferrari jewel bako,” a style of sushi made with Russian beluga caviar and Kobe-style beef dusted with gold flakes. “Bako” refers to the boxy shape of the sushi.

On a budget? Then there’s the “Beverly Hills jewel bako,” identical to the “Ferrari” except for the caviar, which is from California.

Taro’s, the fourth branch in the Mikuni group of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, has been conceived as a showplace and experimental kitchen for Arai, the company’s highly creative executive chef. Innovative dishes that develop an avid following at Taro’s then may be added to the menu at the Mikuni restaurants.

Taro’s opening menu, replete with references to “freestyle, freaky and fun,” runs to a more diverse and nontraditional style of cookery than what customarily is found at Mikuni.

And not all of it is Japanese. The “Canadian albacore flower” is a cold dish of thinly sliced albacore with jalapeno peppers and garlic chips ($12), while the “Thai tai padthai” is a hot plate of Thai noodles with tempura red snapper ($11).

Two “pizzas” are on the menu, one hot (crab, roasted bell peppers, sauteed mushrooms and prawns on a tortilla, $11), one cold (maguro, avocado, asparagus and jalapenos on a tortilla, $11).

The nigiri and sashimi include torched red snapper with olive oil, garlic and ponzu ($6), and thin-sliced squid with a plum paste ($6).

Taro’s by Mikuni will be open initially for dinner only, with lunch expected to be added later.

A more conventional Mikuni is to open in Elk Grove around Christmas. Another Mikuni is to open in El Dorado Hills in about a year. The company also is to open a second Mikuni in Roseville in 2007, and other branches are being contemplated for Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas.

Section: TASTE
Page: G6

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