First Bite: Sapporo Grill

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Japanese food aficionados now have an intriguing alternative to Mikuni on the busy 16th street dining corridor in midtown. I recently checked out brand new – and beautifully appointed – Sapporo Grill, located in the old Firestone building next door to California Pizza Kitchen (and just down the block from Mikuni). Unique design features in this stunning space include a gorgeous all-jade bar, a sleek, ceiling-to-floor waterfall, and an interesting sushi bar counter crafted from knotty, rustic redwood. Folks who enjoy the thrilling culinary hijinks at Benihana will be delighted with the restaurant’s teppan grill area, where a white-clad chef with a serious face cuts, cooks and expertly flings menu items for small groups of enthalled diners. Alternatively, you can settle in at the (very low) sushi bar for your favorite roll (try the “Five Alarm,” containing a tempura-fried jalapeno pepper and spicy tuna) or sit at a table and order off the menu. Grilled meat is a house specialty – selections include a New York steak served with sautéed mushrooms; and – if you’re feeling really flush – Sapporo also offers Kobe beef (sourced, we were assured, “directly from Japan”). At $48 a pop, I’m not sure I would order it again, but it was certainly fun to try. 
1118 16th Street, Sacramento, (916) 448-1818; http://sapporogrill.com