801 14th St, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 441-3000

Color me completely unimpressed. It took a lengthy amount of time to get our party seated, although the place was relatively empty, and then we were placed at two pub tables back to back which made holding conversations awkward.

Our server was a bit odd in the sense that when I tried to place my food order with my drink order, I was snippily reprimanded, "We're only doing drinks, right now!" That's what I was told but then she took food AND drink orders from our other table. Hmmm, be consistent wouldjya?

We were at a brewery, so I wasn't expecting five star cuisine but the food was not good. What's the level below "meh..."?

I had a hankering for fries, so I opted for the fish & chips. The fried fish was shaped oddly and vaguely had a freezer burn taste to it. After one bite, I was done with it. The "classic pub" fries were ok, but a little on the soggy side. Definitely edible though.

Our server disappeared a lot which made ordering another drink difficult and we had to hit up the hostess for the bill at departure time.

As I had "broken the seal," after drinking half of my first beer (and the fact that I have a bladder the size of a pea), I got to make a few trips down the lengthy green hallway to the WC. The kitchen staff you pass as you head there is very friendly and chatty (unlike our server) and jokingly advised that one more pass by & they'd charge me a toll.

Anyhow, I am giving BIU two stars, the Doppelbock was actually pretty good. It wasn't too heavy and had a clean, malty (almost cocoa-y?) finish. Probably not the best stout I've ever had but I liked it. If my local Safeway or BevMo carried it, I'd probably pick it up but I highly doubt that I'll be popping into BIU for a Part Deux.
1925 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 446-3118

I remember passing by the old Taki's when I first moved to Midtown years ago. It was an old dipilitated, blue Craftsman by the railroad tracks. Nothing about it appealed to me back then and I should have stuck with my instinct. I had company in town on Friday night and we decided on Mexican, but with the wait hitting about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half for two at Ernesto's, we opted to satiate our grumbling tummies elsewhere. As we drove down J Street, my friend pointed out Taki's and remarked that he had never tried Japanese food before. Noting that it was a weekend night and every place was probably packed to the gills, we ventured in. The interior was pleasant, festooned with dangly lights and draped in warm orange and red tones like a genie's bottle. We lucked out that a table had just left. The waitress motioned for us to sit down, then proceeded to clean the tabletop as we sat waiting. The tables on the perimeter are pretty cool...reminding me vaguely of futon couches and the seat was quite comfy.

The waitstaff appeared to consist of only two overwhelmed servers. A gentleman that appeared to be the owner and a friendly, petite waitress who appeared to speak very little english. We had the latter, Daisy, as our server. It took over 5 minutes to get menus and another 10 minutes before she returned to take our drink orders. She remembered to card us but appeared to forget to come back to take our dinner order. Although we were only ordering a handful of items, it took several minutes to place our order because I had to repeat the entire order four times to her. Miraculously, all the dishes that were eventually delivered to our table were correct, but to save time in the future (and exasperation on the part of the customer) I'd suggest perhaps writing down the orders the first go round.

The sushi we ordered tasted mediocre, nothing really wowed me and the rice tasted blah. The albacore appetizer tasted fishy (and not in a good way) and appeared to be cut amateurly. My dining companion seemed to like the dishes we ordered, but having no Japanese food frame of reference and having been stationed in the Middle East via the US Army, I would suppose that our meal was better than the MRE's that he was probably subjected to eating.

While my dining companion ducked out to use the restroom, I flagged down the other server (our waitress was nowhere to be found) and requested another large Sapporo for my friend. The server was quick to retrieve a bottle and advised me that it was on the house. I'm not sure why he comped it, perhaps because of the slow service? Either way it was nice of him.

I think I'm being pretty generous in giving Taki's 2 stars.The service was slow, the food average and the fish was off... but the staff's smiles were genuine and the "futon" benches were great for kicking back in to converse while knocking back a few Sapporos & Kirins.

FYI, this is not a great establishment for a date. Being practically on top of the railroad tracks, the train repeatedly chugs by, shakes the building with a Richter magnitude of 5.0 and interrupts conversations. Also, they seem to close up early for a weekend night.
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.