miraku, walnut creek
as we mulled over the local choices we became increasingly dispirited. there was that newish japanese restaurant in a strip mall that made their sushi with long grain rice and poured a strange sweet and sour sauce over their fried rice. "no good", sayeth moms. and there was that kinda crazy expensive and just okay place that kept changing it's name but wasn't worth the price. "no good", sayeth moms. and then there was that new japanese place with the service that was so bad our food didn't arrive after an hour of waiting and at least five requests to our server to check with the kitchen. "mighty bad", sayeth moms. casting our net a bit further afield, we agreed to make the drive to walnut creek (aka "the 'crick") and see what miraku had to offer.
located in a strangely industrial stretch on north broadway, just a few blocks away from the freeway, miraku is easy to miss. the restaurant is tucked along a very long and narrow driveway that wraps around the rear of the newly constructed miraku noodles annex with no outlet. be forewarned that you will have to drive around the rear, do a u turn, then pull out the only driveway, hoping no one is heading toward you. the main restaurant is cozy with a big fountain gurgling away in the center of the room and kimono clad waitresses navigating the space. at the rear of the building is the new ramen house annex. if industrial, cold, gleaming and stark isn't your style you can order off the ramen menu in the main restaurant.
cold noodle salad
at lunchtime all the usual suspects can be found on the menu, including bento boxes at around 6.95. i ordered the cold noodle salad from the noodle-house menu (7.95, i think), and was delighted to see a giant plate of vegetables prettily mounded over well sauced, chewy mound of ramen noodles. the vegetables included pickled ginger, tomato, spinach, sugar snap peas, bean sprouts, corn, bok choy, mushrooms, topped with a sprinkling of nori and a generous dab of karashi (yellow mustard). tossed with the perfectly cooked, still chewy ramen noodles they provided the perfect contrasting crisp snap and sweetness to the dense noodles. the dish was well dressed with a tasty sesame seed vinagrette. the folks at chowhound seem to disagree with me, but i like miraku's noodles. the ramen, even when served in a hot broth, is always pleasantly chewy and never mushy. having said that, it's the udon noodles that moms likes best. she says they are chewy and taste like the noodles her sister's husband makes.
speaking of moms, after she put her teeth in, she heartily dug into a lunchtime sushi platter, served with soup and rice. i can't remember the price, maybe twelve bucks or so? the assortment was right up her alley since she doesn't like any of that "weird" stuff, meaning tako or fish eggs. the assortment of the day was maguro, tai, salmon and white tuna. she was especially impressed with the white tuna, saying it tasted a lot like fatty tuna. the fish was very fresh and the pieces were good cuts and not straggly end pieces. both meals were served with miso soup and salad. moms usually says "pretty good" after a sashimi meal (rather indiscriminately, if you ask me), but today she said "mighty good". now that's saying something.
sashimi platter (salmon, tai, white tuna and maguro)
for more opinons on miraku, you can go to:
citysearch, yelp and chowhound
miraku and miraku noodles
2131 north broadway
walnut creek, ca
925 932 1112