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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Best sushi: Mikuni

This Japanese restaurant, located in the Davis Commons, was voted the best sushi restaurant in Davis


By HANNAH SCHRADER features@theaggie.org


Mikuni was once again voted the best sushi restaurant in Davis, receiving 56.8% of votes. It is a Japanese-style restaurant located just off First and D Street in downtown Davis. 

Mikuni was founded in 1987 by Taro Arai in Fair Oaks, California, who had just recently emigrated from Kyushu, Japan. Arai became the reverend to the First Japanese Baptist Church in Sacramento shortly after moving to California.

Arai came to the United States not knowing how to speak English but learned it through his years working at his parent’s restaurant. Though Arai didn’t have the privilege of getting a higher education, his kids were able to.

The Arai family owns Mikuni, which started as a small business 37 years ago and has flourished to become one of the most prominent businesses in Northern California with nine locations throughout the region. Chefs at Mikuni have created over 300 recipes, and the restaurant has won the Best in Sacramento Readership survey 13 times consecutively.

In 2001, Mikuni started their sushi bus and became the only traveling sushi bar in the world. Then, in 2002, Mikuni launched their well-known interactive sushi-making class that teaches the basics of sushi making. In 2004, the “Koki Club” was launched as Mikuni’s very first loyalty program, and today, it has over 80,000 active members.

The restaurant celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2022 and gave away a new Honda Civic. Though the restaurant’s philanthropy does not end there, Mikuni has raised over $3.5 million dollars for over 100 different charity organizations.

“[Mikuni] firmly [believes] in giving back…to being a good neighbor…to assisting those in need in any way possible,” Mikuni’s website reads.

Mikuni also accepts fundraiser requests on its website. Some of the organizations Mikuni has donated to include: Twin Lakes Food Bank, Child Advocates of Placer County, River City Food Bank, Alzheimer’s Aid Society and Lighthouse Family Counseling and Resource Center.

The Mikuni Davis location has a very modern design with low-hanging mood lights and traditional Japanese decor. On the weekends, the restaurant is lively, with servers swiftly delivering rolls through a bustling restaurant with a sustained buzz of chatter.

The crowd at Mikuni varies from UC Davis students seeking reprieve from the quick-moving quarter system to out-of-towners who love Mikuni just as much as the Davis locals.

Melvina Smith, a materials and store supervisor, and Tajae Ramsey, an arts education and camp manager at the Kroc Center, enjoyed a meal at Mikuni and talked about the vibe of the restaurant.

“Oh, it’s really good,” Smith said. “And we keep coming back because we live in Suisun, so we travel to come here.”

Smith and Ramsey then talked about their favorite rolls to order at Mikuni.

“I really do like the flaming mushroom [roll],” Smith said. “Every time I come back, I try a different roll.” 

Ramsey agreed with that sentiment.

“All their rolls are really good,” Ramsey said. “And their appetizers are everything.”


Written by: Hannah Schrader — features@theaggie.org



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