S and I were recently invited to check out Shimbashi Izakaya, located in Del Mar. We were quite excited since Japanese food is one of our favorite cuisines, and I’ve actually had Shimbashi on my list of places to visit for a while.
The restaurant is located in the Del Mar Plaza, same building as Del Mar Rendezvous and Pacifica.
The restaurant boasts an impressive sake list, and the menu features a large variety, from appetizers to grilled and deep fried items, to sushi and sashimi. We were recommended to try a sake flight – since neither of us have much experience with sake, we went with the basic sampler, which includes one each of three different sake varieties: nigori, honjozo, and junmai.
The three sakes that we sampled were, from front to back: Shochikubai, Yoshinogawa, and Oigame. They varied quite a bit in sweetness/dryness – the Shochikubai (nigori) was definitely the sweetest, while the Oigame (junmai) had the most distinct rice taste. In the end, both S and my favorite was the Yoshinogawa (honjozo), but we’re still noobs when it comes to sake, so there’s definitely room for us to learn!
Onto the food. Recently, they have been doing a new “Taste of Japan” – for two weeks at a time, there is a three-item set menu (priced at $28) that highlights a certain regional Japanese cuisine. We were there to preview the “Taste of Nagoya”, created by Chef Nohara – one of Shimbashi’s chefs. It will run from November 17-December 1.
This was the 1st course in Taste of Nagoya – it reminded me a bit of poke, actually. The tuna tasted really fresh and paired well with the savory miso sauce.
Second course in the tasting was this fried shrimp – according to our waitress, shrimp is a favorite in Nagoya, and they prepare it in all sorts of styles. Here, it was battered with panko and deep fried, and served with a wedge of lemon and mayonnaise for dipping. It was fried perfectly – the batter was crisp and golden brown, and the shrimp inside was cooked perfectly. And, since S doesn’t eat shrimp, I got both pieces to myself, hehe.
The last course in the tasting was the hitsumabushi – grilled eel over rice, served with a mini kettle of tea to pour over the rice.