7236 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church 573-4154 Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner, Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11 p.m. Sunday 5:30 to 10 p.m. Cards: AE, V, MC, DC No nonsmoking section.
"Irasshaimase!" is the Japanese greeting of welcome you'll hear from the sushi chefs when you walk into this cozy storefront.
In addition to the sushi and sashimi, there are other standard Japanese offerings such as soups, teriyakis and tempuras.
The sushi is fine and fresh and can be enjoyed at your table or at the L-shaped sushi bar in the back. The basic assortment, handsomely displayed on a tray, goes for $8.95 and includes eight lustrous pieces of seafood and rice as well as a tuna roll cut into six pieces. I also recommend the maki assortment -- one roll each of tuna, avocado/crab and cucumber. A variation on the cucumber roll is the plum roll, with a salty/sour plum sauce spread between the rice and slivers of cucumber.
The sukiyaki is delicious and, at $23.50 for two, the most expensive entree. Cooked in a gas-fired skillet at your table, most of the ingredients, such as onions, noodles, mushrooms and tofu, benefit from a slow simmer in the sweet soy broth, but the paper-thin slices of beef are best when barely done.
Two teriyakis glistening with sweet marinade -- one a lean beef and the other a seafood assortment -- were attractively presented. In a culinary non sequitur, however, each plate also had a helping of iceberg lettuce topped with a creamy dressing that proved disorienting -- the same feeling you might have if your Bob's Big Boy hamburger came with an order of kappa maki.
A hot appetizer of pork slices broiled in the rich teriyaki sauce had a wonderful flavor, although the pork was slightly fatty.
In the tempura appetizer, a fairly good batter was fried to a delicate crunchiness on three long, sweet shrimp and assorted vegetables, for $3.75. Tempura entrees come in three variations -- shrimp, vegetable and a combination of the two plus chicken -- and were enhanced by a dip of ginger-spiked soy sauce.
A pleasant way to enjoy custardy cubes of tofu was in the appetizer age (pronounced ah'-gay) tofu, in which the crisply fried cubes are served in a tempura sauce sprinkled with grated fresh ginger and green onion slices. A less satisfying fried appetizer was the chicken wings, which had little meat and were fatty.
Another good choice was the finely breaded, tender pork cutlet, a delectable contrast in textures, with a crackly, fried exterior and a juicy, succulent inside.
There is a nice selection of Japanese beer as well as sake and plum wine.
Dessert is limited to fresh fruit and slices of sweet, drably colored bean jellies.
Service was generally prompt and gracious, but questions about the food can get bogged down in the translation.
On the other hand, the quality of the food speaks for itself. Mino is, pure and simple, a good value.