RA and I returned to Misaki as promised (at lunch time no less) and found the entire experience much improved. The hot dish options had increased in both quantity and quality. I sampled some veggie and shrimp tempura that were excellent. Both RA and I agreed that the peppered beef was the star of the hot bar.
There were more patrons in the dining room and better ambience music. The wait staff seemed more relaxed but just as attentive as the last time we were there.
The sushi was just as fantastic as I remembered.
I'm glad to see Misaki finding its niche and ironing out the glitches! We'll be back!
Today was the last day off RA and I will share together in the foreseeable future. The bittersweet symphony of my new status as an employed 9-6 M-F person and his working weekends/looming shift swap schedule.
To celebrate, I forced him to eat sushi. He hates sushi. It's not about the raw factor or a weird wasabi aversion (although after today, it might be), he thinks it all tastes the same and bland. I can kind of understand where he's coming from because I'm not a sushi aficionado. I started out casually sampling california and spicy tuna rolls, building ever so slightly from those roots, and I'm still not a nigiri person. I mix wasabi and soy sauce... I do it all wrong. But I like it.
I don't think I have a particularly refined palate. I'm pretty sure of this because one time a friend and I ate a Pup-peroni stick just because it looked like a Slim Jim (explanation of the alternate title should be fulfilled at this point). I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have eaten a Pup-peroni because it means I'll try new things. Even if they're dog food.
So I bullied RA into going to Misaki after I'd gotten a Groupon email offer. I didn't take the Groupon deal because it was for dinner only (still a really good deal at half off though) but I did want to see if Misaki's sushi/seafood/Chinese buffet had anything to offer. Most people, especially foodie people, cringe at the thought of a buffet, but this is where my unrefined palate and limited budget shine.
Any maki roll outside of the california comfort zone costs at least $10 dollars. I've tried a number of local sushi establishments touted by the Urbanspoon community, paid through the nose and been unimpressed. With a lunch buffet cost of $11, Misaki was worth a shot... to try a variety of rolls. To try a restaurant that hadn't yet been Urbanspoon blogged to death. To temp food poisoning gods and fate.
The exterior of Misaki is foreboding... and so is the interior. It's located on a weird stretch of Saw Mill Run in a building that used to be an Italian restaurant, and redecorating doesn't seem to be a top priority. The dim dining lighting, out-of-place decor and general lack of customers made my anxiety kick into high gear off the get go.
Our first shot at the buffet reinforced the ominous foreshadowing. To be fair, we arrived at 11:30 to a sushi buffet that begins serving lunch at 11:00. I imagine, food costs being what they are, the owners are reluctant to put out a full spread until there are people to serve. At the same time, as patrons, it seems silly that a half an hour into a three hour lunch service we had little more than four maki roll options to choose from and the entire hot line was lukewarm at best.
My first plate of mainly hot options since there wasn't much sushi. Note the chipped plate... not a great start for a restaurant that's been open for less than a month.
Although the hot options were cold, we agreed that the flavors were pretty good. We decided to stick around because more diners started arriving and more maki rolls were appearing on the buffet.
By this point, whether from hunger induced delirium or shear awe for the spread, even RA tried some maki. We both agreed that Misaki serves up some of the best maki we've had once it's game on. I definitely wouldn't go to Misaki for the Chinese/American hot dishes because, hot or cold, they weren't very impressive. The maki is definitely the star of the show:
... and it's prima donna tendencies made me wonder if it was worth the wait. I would probably give Misaki another try, but I'd make sure it was during the dinner rush and with a half-off Groupon coupon.