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Restaurant Muramoto

In a word: Living up to its image is a challenge.

The specs: #0549  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile, reviews at Yelp, QSC, Insider Pages, listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Restaurant Muramoto on Urbanspoon

Latest Restaurant Muramoto news and reviews

JM ate the BBQ chicken.
Nichole ate the chef's choice sushi rolls with a pineapple juice.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Restaurant Muramoto an A- ; Nichole gave Restaurant Muramoto a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Our personal "Restaurant Week" ended as quickly as it began, with lunch at a spot we'd heard so many recommendations for. The lunch menu was considerably shorter and less adventurous than the dinner menu, but seemed to suit the suit crowd well.

We sat on the patio where the sun was shining brightly. The grill was just on the other side of the wall, and every time we heard something slap down, we'd see a plume of smoke from the exhaust above the patio and get a whiff of something delicious. Those clouds reminded us of another Muramoto restaurant and we wondered if every staffer needs to go through the Haze before moving on to the more tippable jobs here and at Sushi Muramoto (but we didn't have the courage to ask our server such a dumb, punny question).


After one bite of the BBQ chicken, JM described it as glazed in sunshine. It sure was pretty. A generous slather of sweet and hot sauce lay under roasted potatoes and zucchini and a side of sesame-inflected coleslaw. The side of longer-grain white rice was also fragrant and good, and very distinct from the sushi rice, though we expected thoughtful use of ingredients at a place of this caliber.

Chef's choiceThe sushi's only real problem was that it was served on a bed of laurels. Leaving the choice to the chef yielded two hosomaki (one avocado and one salmon) and a New York roll with avocado and crab. The flavors were fresh, with a better grade of ginger than you usually see, but the rolls weren't all that tight and there was what looked like a blue denim apron thread stuck between two of them. Maybe Tuesday lunch is training time, who knows.

All nitpicking aside, we left sated and sunned, and more than willing to come back and try dinner sometime when we're done with the List.


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Folks, I think you got this one wrong. Spending $25 on lunch at Muramoto and judging the restaurant on that basis is like having a coffee & a market bun at Cafe Soleil and grading L'Etoile on that basis. This is a $40-60 per person dinner. Stay a long time, have cocktails, try a wide variety of the small plates & share them amongst your group. Then you'll get an experience that can fairly be relied upon to judge this place. It's top drawer, certainly not A-/B+ material.

Decent, not spectacular, fairly expensive. The rice here tends to be prepared bland 'midwest-style' instead of with the unctuous sweet/vinegar flavor one finds at authentic sushi restaurants. The rolls do tend to fall apart, as mentioned above. I enjoy the 'small bites' plates once in a while at the downtown location, but I've had some disappointingly bland undersized meals. Often if you arrive when busy they'll just rush out your meal and the plates will look plain sloppy--aesthetics are a big part of Japanese food. The black cod dish is terrific; a few years ago they participated in restaurant week with an unlimited sushi offering and we had a terrific time sampling all kinds of tuna. I wish they'd join restaurant week again. In general I'd give Muramoto a recommendation but I've never understood why everyone gobbled up their branding as a high-end restaurant. Takumi tends to be less expensive, fresher, and with a nicer presentation. Make sure to wear your black turtleneck.

The meal my wife and I had at Restaurant Muramoto ranks as one of, if not the, most enjoyable meals in Madison. Lifting my TDPF comment from 11/08:

Sakizuke of kobe tartare, scallop, king crab, sweetbreads, and braised pork. All were wonderful, although my tartare fell apart and I made an ass of myself trying to gather it up. Sweetbreads were a revelation.

Main dishes of hanger steak for her, fried pork belly for me. Not having the old potatoes to which to compare, we were definitely in favor of the current recipe. Steak was great, but tinged with wistfulness for the glory that was the CocoLiquot hanger.

Fried pork belly was amazing. Watermelon salad was just sweet enough to distinguish it from bell pepper, and the sesame vinaigrette was a perfect harmonizing note.

Had the chef's choice of desserts: yuzu custard tart (pretty good, very small), lemon verbena panna cotta (delectable panna cotta, lemon verbena flavor much better than any I've ever had before), green tea opera cake (a solid effort on a low degree of difficulty dessert), and the chocolate mousse-cake-thing (very creamy, very straightforward chocolatey, a perfect last bite).

Plus, the pomegranate cocktail x2 for her, the Hendrick's pepito and ginger saketini for me.

Service: slow at first, kinda slow throughout, but very friendly. almost a little flirtingly winky, but not inappropriate.

Atmosphere: despite a large birthday party of SatC girly types right next to us, the noise was perfectly amenable for conversation.

Price: has to be one of the best values in the city.

The first time I ate here it was fab. The last two times WAAAY too much salt in all the dishes. A trend I noticed the last few times I ate at other "fine dining" establishments in Madison. ahem Sard...

Both my SO and I enjoy their small plates and mixed drinks. He still talks about the hangar steak he had at his company's Christmas party in 2008. I still think about this berry and sochu drink. It tasted so fresh.

Neither of us is a big sushi fan. I've never had room for dessert, but it always sounds good.

I have to agree with the comment that the rice they use in their sushi is not have enough vinegar. I enjoy a more traditional sushi roll and they did not serve this up atmosphere was A+ though.

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