Miki Campus, Ayaka, and DKY open.
by Tony McReynolds & Sally Mitani
Kevin Choi and James Bee bought Miki Japanese Restaurant, one of Ann Arbor oldest, noblest sushi restaurants, six years ago from founder Ann Lin, who went on to start Yotsuba Japanese Restaurant. There's now a second Yotsuba in West Bloomfield Township--and Choi and Bee have opened a second Miki near campus. It's one of three new sushi places to open this summer.
Miki Campus is on the ground floor of University Towers at the corner of South U and Forest. Like most South U eateries--and unlike its downtown parent--the new place is aimed at students. The traditional Japanese artwork takes a backseat to several TVs and a collection of football pennants and sports photographs (Choi is an ardent football fan). While not particularly elegant, it's comfortable, lined with large, upholstered half-moon booths. The menu is less formal than downtown's: as Choi says, "less price, less menu." Though there is a sushi bar, he's hoping students will go for the homey favorites of his Tokyo youth, like katsu curry, donkatsu, and tempura udon. Also, especially for students, he created a bargain he calls TY (tuna and yellowtail) sashimi for $14.95. Miki Campus has no liquor license, and Choi doesn't plan to get one.
Miki Campus, 1235 South University. 222-5250. Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sat. noon-10:30 p.m., Sun. noon-10 p.m. www.mikicampus.com
Ayaka calls itself an "urban Japanese restaurant," and its innovative design and high-impact decor help it live up to that image. Its hip, snug storefront a few doors down from Miki Campus would fit in Toronto as well as it does on South University. Designed by the award-winning local firm PLY Architecture, the space has a sophisticated black and gray color scheme splashed with sleek orange accents, including ceiling art whose loose, scalloped design suggests both raw fish and the "colorful flower" for which the restaurant is named.
Ayaka is owner Sang Park's first restaurant, but he's no stranger to the business. He spent ten
years as a chef at his brother-in-law's restaurant, Saica, on Plymouth Road.
Park, thirty-seven, is originally from Korea and moved to the States in 1991. That's why there's bibimbop on the menu as well as sushi, sashimi, chirashi, and miso soup. There are all the usual suspects, and also some delicious-sounding innovations, including sweet potato and shiitake mushroom tempura.
Ayaka, 1205 South University. 214-1212. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m. Closed Sun.
There's nothing wrong with the decor at DKY Sushi--in fact, it's the same creamy orange walls with wood wainscoting left over from when the west-side space was Lu Lu's, Leonardo's, and the Sahara Cafe and Grill. The little spot on Zeeb Road across from Meijer has been a revolving door--DKY is the fourth restaurant to open there in three years. But owners Kit Yu and her husband Duo "Ron" Chen hope to outlast them all. Although they're Chinese, they serve up classic sushi fare. They may eventually add Chinese dishes; for now, though, they're focusing on sushi, sashimi, tempura, and teriyaki.
Like other sushi restaurants, DKY (the name is a combination of the owners' initials) has wild names for some of its sushi rolls. The Philadelphia roll features fish (usually smoked salmon) and cream cheese. The caterpillar roll features salmon, asparagus, and shrimp (not--thankfully--woolly bears). The "fantastic roll" contains fresh salmon, eel, and mango.
DKY Sushi, 283 S. Zeeb (Scio Town Center). 997-9197. Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
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[Originally published in October, 2009.]