Located in the heart of McAllen’s historic art district, Mikhuna is a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant that is serving up unique cuisine creations to our part of the world. The Il Forno brand restaurant specializes in preparing “nikkei” style food using Peruvian ingredients with Japanese influences.
Don’t worry. Though that might sound a little daunting, I will guide you through the experience.
For starters, you might want to call ahead for a reservation or stop in on a weeknight. Even then, the restaurant at 905 N. Main Street in McAllen was buzzing with customers. There is indoor and outdoor seating, both offering a warm and inviting ambiance. Peek inside at the colorful mural created by a local artist. It is worth taking a snapshot in front of and posting on the socials. Selfie, anyone?
OK, let’s get to the food. That’s what we’re here for, right?
“Peru has a large number of Japanese immigrants and that has greatly influenced cuisine in that region,” said Stephanie Ramirez, of Il Forno. “We knew Mikhuna was something very different to the community, but the flavors are very adaptable to the palate.”
The menu has a variety of options that include appetizers like Inca Gyoza — made with pork and vegetables that comes with aji amarillo and spicy ponzu sauce — and entrees like one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes, Ropa Vieja. The dish is prepared with shredded brisket, pork, sofrito salsa, white rice, black beans, plantains, and avocado. Is your mouth watering yet? Or try some of the seafood dishes like Arroz con Mariscos. This rice dish includes shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams, and green peas topped with cilantro and salsa criolla. It’s very similar to classic Spanish paella.
And of course, you want to try the inspiration for the restaurant. The Nikkei items like sushi are created using top quality fish imported fresh every week from the Honolulu Fish Company.
If you have a question about the menu, the staff is very knowledgeable and will help you select items fit to your tasting. Really, there is not a dish on there that isn’t mindfully made to taste delightful. Our server helped us through the experience, and she really did create a food experience by offering at least three to four different options to try from the appetizer, entrée, and dessert selections.
If you’re up to try something new and full of flavor, check Mikhuna out. This well-priced restaurant is perfect for a date night or a night out with your best pals. Don’t forget to check out the cocktails. Some fan favorites include Mezcalito, made with mezcal and serrano peppers for a spicy margarita. Other favorites are Maracuya Pisco Sour and Chicha Morada Margarita. All are served using quality ingredients and liquor. Mikhuna also offers an extensive wine, beer, sake, and sangria menu.
“We have an inviting, local vibe, and it’s a great place that keeps attracting people from all over,” Ramirez said.
So, what did I try?
Appetizer: Wistupiku, shredded chicken empanadas that come with creamy aji sauce but our server suggested we go with the house sauce — perfect choice!
Entrée: Pulpo a la Parilla, grilled octopus that was cooked to perfection and so tasty. It came with fried sweet potato, feta cheese and salsa criolla
Dessert: Matcha cheesecake with Oreo Crust. it was great and served with a scoop of ice cream.
Drink: Red Sangria