Sunday, October 16, 2005

Miyako - Guilderland NY

--Update: The new restaurant is open in Troy: Japanica Grill. We hope to have a review soon.--
--Miyako closed June 2012 - It is rumored they will open a new restaurant in Troy--
Miyako is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. Owned by a Japanese couple, there is a real commitment to quality.

The most popular feature is the "Hibachi" tables. In Japan this is known as teppanyaki -- which roughly translates to steel cook (a reference to the cooking surface). There are 8 seats at a rectangular table, with one side for the cook. He cooks up various vegetables along with your choice of meat (the filet mignon is excellent). This is really gringo food -- the cooking surface is common in Japan, but it's used mostly for fried noodles and maybe dumplings -- but the Japanese flavorings are genuine. Even though I'm a purist for Japanese food, I still like some of the gringo items. I'm not a good judge of meat quality myself, but we ate there once with a friend who is, and he was very impressed with the cuts of steak.

There are also regular tables and a small sushi bar, and a couple of rooms in the back. They used to have a Japanese sushi chef, (I like to practice my Japanese), but he left recently. The owner is trying to get a new Japanese sushi chef.

The sushi is good. Sushi in Albany is a challenge -- the ocean is far away, and there is not enough volume of customers for a sushi place to have great variety of fish. So the fish selection is limited compared to what you might find in NYC, Boston, or California (or of course, Japan). One of my favorite sushi dishes is the Carp-accio -- raw salmon in olive oil. It's kind of a fusion sashimi dish and I'm hooked on it.

When the Japanese sushi chef was there, I would ask his recommendation. I'm not as sure that a non-Japanese sushi chef will appreciate the quality issues to make a recommendation (sushi not being native to China). I should note that my wife is not a purist like me, and she likes the sushi at Miyako as well.

The regular Japanese menu is also good. One of our favorite appetizers is Edamame (soybeans served in the pods). These are delicious and quite healthy. As with the other dishes, the Japanese ownership shows though in an important area -- the sauces are right and the dishes taste like they do in Japan. This is a particular problem with Japanese restaurants that are run by Chinese. The Korean-run places generally get things right. Yes, I know these comments may not be politically correct, but shikata nai (it's kind of like c'est la vie).

The only downsides of Miyako are that the service is sometimes slow at the regular tables (especially if the place is crowded), and the prices are a bit on the high side. If you want fast and cheap, there are other places you can go. If you want good quality Japanese food across the board, this is the best place in the area.

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