Monday, April 22, 2013

For Those Who Love the Spicy and Crunchy

Ghost Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll
"Secret Pleasure" Appetizer

Ghost Peppers Make an Appearance at Mikomi

I had dismissed Mikomi, a sushi bar in Monrovia, as a generic, run-of-the-mill Japanese restaurant catering to small townsfolk. Nestled among quaint shops, cafes and a movie theater, Mikomi seems understated in appearance, an afterthought, a place where people go for simple sushi rolls. For a time—dare I admit?—even I stopped by to grab the basic stuff while on the go: spicy scallop rolls, spicy tuna maki, vegetable rolls (Mikomi actually makes a pretty decent version of the latter).

But this time, something on the Specials menu on the wall caught my eye. Written in neon marker were the words “Ghost Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll,” followed by the descriptive part “…with ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia), $12.”

For the Bhut Jolokia (also known as the ghost pepper, or one of the hottest chili peppers in the world) to be included in a sushi roll is rare; Mikomi is now officially the second sushi bar I have come across that features this fiery ingredient—perhaps it’s becoming a trend.

Ever the curious pain enthusiast, I asked the waitress if this Ghost Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll overwhelms the majority of those who try it, and she replied that they can make a mild version of it for me, as if I were truly daunted. That really wasn’t what I wanted. Did it mean, then, that I wanted pain?

I decided to play with fieriness and order the Ghostly special, recalling a certain incident at another sushi bar in which the ghost-pepper-infused roll was so flaming hot, I’d had to spit it out—but something told me this one was going to be less intense, perhaps because unlike the other restaurant, this place did not provide a latex glove for effect, nor a waiver for me to sign away my right to sue them in the unfortunate event that I ended up with damaged internal organs.

Turns out, it was delightful. Not as painful as I’d expected. The Ghost Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll was indeed spicy and crunchy, with its shrimp tempura and spicy tuna mixed with a dark brown chili sauce which, according to the chef, comprises various chilis including the infamous ghost pepper, and slivers of white onions and a single stick of yamagobo inside that I would have preferred more of, rather than the multitude of cucumbers which filled out the rest of the roll. I asked the chef for more white onions—another rare ingredient in sushi rolls; usually it’s chopped green onions or thinly sliced red onions—and he provided a heap of diced white ones on a plate. Fried tempura bits cover this roll, making it even crunchier.

In Mikomi’s menu, an entire list of Tempura Rolls can be found—including the Thai Coconut Shrimp Roll, or the Fire Cracker Roll. If you’re not into the deep-fried choices, then Baked Rolls can also be selected. From the Donburi section, choose from Unagi Donburi, Salmon/Ikura Donburi, or the proverbial Chirashi, the tried-but-true assortment of fish on a bed of sushi rice.

But if you really want something not so traditional, how about the appetizer called Secret Pleasure, for $12.95? Now if mounds of spicy tuna mixed with tomatoes, drizzled with eel sauce, dusted with tempura bits and served on deep-fried wonton chips isn’t pleasure, then what is?

414 S. Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia