Making the Grade: Mikata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar

Stacey Patton Wallace

Mikata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar

The old cliché is true: The older you get, the faster time passes. For example, back when I was a kid growing up in Alexander City, summer vacation seemed to last forever, one terrible sunburn after another (the use of sunscreen wasn’t emphasized back then, unfortunately.). The next school year seemed a year away instead of just a few months.

  However, by the time I became a teacher in LaGrange, Georgia, the never-ending summers were no more. After my students left and I packed up my classroom, the Fourth of July came barreling up in no time. Before I could turn around, a new set of students were looking at me.

  Now, this year, unbelievably, I will celebrate my 60th birthday, the Good Lord willing. How is this even possible? Inside, I still feel as though I’m 25; I’m too young to be this old. However, my mirror, hip and leg beg to differ.

  Thankfully, I look at aging as did my grandmother (Mother Mac — Mama’s mother), who lived to be 104. Mother Mac remained youthful her entire life, and I like her attitude. Therefore, I was fabulous in my 40s, nifty in my 50s and will be sensational in my 60s. (Again, the Good Lord willing.)

  I decided that a good way to turn 60 would be to buy a 2023 red Nissan Rogue a few months before my actual birthday in December. Therefore, Mike and I headed to Lynch Nissan and bought Scarlett (we are sentimental and name our cars.). Scarlett is beautiful and can do everything except fly. Thanks again to Michael Willis, our sales representative, who gets an A+ in customer service from this retired English teacher. Michael is the best car sales rep we’ve ever seen.

  Now, Mike’s birthday was on Sept. 22. Even though he didn’t get a new car for his birthday, I will let him drive mine occasionally. Also, Mike and I celebrated his birthday as he liked. First thing in the morning, he opened his gift. Then in the afternoon, we carried on the tradition we started with my sweet Mama a few years ago: We enjoyed Gigi’s Cupcakes, the most amazing cupcakes in Lee County. As usual, Mike chose the vanilla wedding cake, while I selected the turtle cheesecake. Oh, my three times. I usually only have Gigi’s Cupcakes on our birthdays so that I don’t wind up at East Alabama Medical Center in a diabetic coma.

  As I’ve mentioned before, Mike’s favorite food is Japanese. Therefore, we met our friends Jack and William for supper at Mikata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar at 323 Airport Road in Auburn. We’ve enjoyed all of the Japanese restaurants, that I’ve reviewed for this column. However, Mikata is Mike’s favorite restaurant in Lee County.

  We chose to eat at the hibachi grill, as we always do, because Mike and I love to watch the chef put on a show, whirling silver knives and other utensils. If I tried to do that, I’d have a lawsuit on my hands. I’m dangerous enough just around a stove. 

  That night, Chef Richard Hagmann, who has worked at Mikata for 18-and-a-half years, prepared our meals and kept us laughing because he was hilarious. Next time, we will request his table.

  Mike and I ordered the Mikata Special for two: filet mignon and shrimp. Jack chose the steak and shrimp, while William selected the steak and chicken. As usual, before our main courses, we enjoyed miso soup and the house salad, which were delicious, as always.

  Also, the steak, shrimp and chicken were wonderful, as were the generous portions of vegetables and fried rice. This is Alabama; everything tastes better fried. Since Mike was the birthday boy, he ordered a dish of sherbet for dessert; he really enjoyed it.

  Besides our tasty entrees, Mikata also has a large selection of others, some of which include the seafood combo (shrimp and scallops); Mikata Imperial Dinner (filet mignon steak and lobster tail); King salmon, shrimp and scallops; lobster and King salmon; vegetable dinner; lobster tail dinner (two lobster tails); chicken and calamari; and steak and calamari. All dinners include a salad, steamed rice, vegetables and dessert. Diners may request fried rice with an egg and mixed vegetables for an additional cost.

  Mikata also has an extensive selection of sushi with combinations, as well as a long list of small or classic rolls.

  If you love great food and a lot of laughter, run and do not walk to Mikata. We’ll see you there.

  Mikata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.

  Mikata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!  

  Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at


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