REVIEW: Mikaku, Glasgow

Kenny Smith visit Japanese restaurant Mikaku in Glasgow.

JAPANESE food has always been a winner in my household.

My junior diner has a fascination with the Far East and its culture, as they have a love of its art, through Manga and anime, as well as its food.

So, when learning that Glasgow’s Mikaku is marking the UK’s largest celebration of Japanese food, drink, and culture, this became a must-do.

As the first Scottish city to participate in the festival, Mikaku is offering a £1 ramen deal for lunch-goers from Wednesday 26 October through to Tuesday 1 November, inclusive.

Arriving at the restaurant, the junior diner and I were immediately struck by the setting – upon entering, it has the feel of a Japanese street, with tables and comfortable seats gathered together for small groups.

There are bright colours, vivid lighting, and the design gives you the feel of what you would expect Japan to be, with banners festooned with Japanese writing – we were informed there’s also a manhole cover that, later in the day, will emit small bursts of dry ice, to complete the image.

We were seated upstairs in a comfortable space, with lots of room. The menu offered a variety of dishes, and it was hard to choose – junior diner’s eyes lit up at the selection on offer.

Mikaku starters

We picked three starters. My first was chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken – small, £5.50), which was fantastic. The chicken tasted amazing – it was fresh, and the batter on it perfect. Not too soft, not too crispy. Just the way I liked it. Junior diner was raving about it, and may have had an extra piece than they were meant to.

The second pick was chicken gyoza dumplings, a Japanese favourite, with five pieces (£5). These are just perfect – the outer casing feels like an al dente pasta, and the filling was pleasantly rich, with a chicken and vegetable smush inside. The dipping sauce was just the right side of spicy for me.

We opted for some furikake fries (£4), which are skin-on fries tossed in seaweed, garlic, and chilli, with a sweet honey and oyster glaze. These were a hit with both of us, and didn’t last long – absolutely delicious, without leaving an aftertaste.

Mikaku miso and edamame

Junior diner also picked some edamame (£3), and enjoyed these steamed young soya beans, with a sprinkling of salt, with their main dish.

They opted for the half portion of miso black (£5.50), a rich tankotou ramen with a miso base, with mayu burnt garlic oil, chicken breast, and crispy fried garlic, with noodles. The portion size was impressive, considering this was a half-bowl, and the noodles within were great – not overwhelmed by too much of the broth. And as for the flavour – perfect. One to try if you’re a fan of garlic.

Mikaku tonkatsu

I had a very difficult choice, as there were so many options to choose from, with chicken and pork katsu curries, chashy don (pork belly, served on rice), and ultimately, went for a ramen too.

I had a half-portion of tonkatsu, which was creamy tonkatso pork broth, with ramen noodles, chashu pork, marinated kikurage mushrooms, spring onions, and seawood (£5.50). Like junior diner’s choice, the noodles were plentiful, and pork was delicious, and I was delighted with my choice. I opted for an extra, with a soft-boiled egg (£2), which was perfectly cooked and a great accompaniment.

Mikaku desserts

Although both stuffed, we felt like it would be wrong not to have a dessert, and both chose the apple gyoza (£3.20). Junior diner picked the vanilla ice cream (which crumbled, with the texture of a sorbet, which she loved), whilst I went for matcha, as I’d never tried it in an ice cream before. The subtle tea flavour worked well with the apple – perhaps a flavour combination of the future? After all, who would have thought salted caramel would work?

We were deligthed with our visit – great service, great food, good portion sizes, and – best of all – fantastic service, means only one thing; we’ll be back. And soon.

Meanwhile, fodies can enjoy a £1 half-bowl of Mikaku’s ramens – including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options – between 11am and 4pm every day of the festival.

Special guest cocktails featuring Japanese and new local partners are also on the menu to celebrate Japan Week Festival.

Dario Bernardi from Mikaku said: “We’re really excited to welcome customers, old and new, to Mikaku to celebrate Japan Week Festival. It’s a great opportunity to put the spotlight on our delicious ramen. We’re proud to offer vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options so that everyone can enjoy the perfect bowl of warming goodness – and now for just £1.”

Customers should be quick as the offer is limited to the first 80 customers each day, and bookings are not available – first come, first served.

Mikaku, 45 Queen Street, Glasgow, G1 3EF

Find out more on the restaurant’s website.

Plus, catch up with more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages, in association with Cask & Still magazine.