This weekend was CP’s birthday and after much deliberation, I settled on a place I have been trying to get us to for some time – Shimbashi Izakaya. The restaurant is in downtown Del Mar, tucked upstairs, in a nook of the shopping area by the shores. Only reason why the restaurant came under my radar was because my fellow foodie co-worker had told me about it.
When we arrived on Saturday, the entire shopping area was packed, including Shimbashi. However, we were seated immediately for our 8:15pm reservation. The restaurant was simple and beautiful, though small so I would highly recommend having reservations especially during Saturdays.
As we settled down at our table, we flipped through the menu. I knew going in, that I wanted to try their sushi (naturally), but also their Paitan Ramen. Paitan broth generally is made from stock of boiled down pork (or chicken or both) bones, to give the “milky” and rich flavorful soup. A good broth takes a lot of time and patience, with just the right amount of spices, and so hard to find in San Diego. When I saw that Shimbashi had a “Paitan” ramen, I just had to try!
First up – the sushi! We ordered the Lobster Salmon Roll: Lobster, masago, and cucumber, topped with salmon, garlic oil, ponzu, sesame seeds, bonito flakes and red onions. Quite a mess of food, but my goodness! It was utterly melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I could not believe how one bite of this made me go: HOT DANG!
Fresh salmon, plus sweet lobster in my mouth was worth a squealing ovation. Then the bonito flakes contributed the salt in the equation, while the red onions gave it a little spice kick and was rounded out by the ponzu’s citrus. Great sushi roll!
CP ordered the Tempura Udon and take note that this bowl was quite small. Their portions for noodles were quite small (you’ll see mine). The udon was simply dressed with nori, scallions, and the cute little fish cakes. What I did like was that they kept the tempura off on a separate plate so that the batter would not get soggy. CP really like his udon and since I did not try it, we’ll just have to go with his word! I mean…it IS his birthday ;).
Here is my Paitan Ramen and boy was I excited when this came out! Take a look at that white, milky broth! However, here’s where my trepidations came: notice the lack of blobs of fatty oils that I would expect from a good paitan broth. With hesitation, I took a sip of the broth and was relieved to find it was quite good. Not to the level of the one (THE best one) CP and I had while in Hawaii, but still worthy of noting.
The broth was rich tasting and coated my mouth nicely, but the flavor did not overwhelm which I had hoped it would. The ramen noodles itself was the usual egg-based noodles that were cooked al dente. Accompanying the noodles were bean sprouts, bamboo, corn, boiled egg (not marinated), nori, chashu, and scallions. The accompaniments were good yet, the non-marinated egg made me a little sad. I love a good salted/tea egg.
We also had ordered some Chicken Karaage, and the reason why I don’t have a picture of it…it was terrible. Don’t bother yourself with this item. The chicken pieces were huge (by appetizer standards), the breading was flimsy and oily, and that whole dish was a hot mess.
Another issue I had with Shimbashi Izakaya was that their servers were not very good at working the floor. We were left completely unattended for a solid amount of time after the food was delivered by one server, and our waitress came to check to see if we were ok at that point. Well, of course we were. We just got all of our food with no issues, so naturally we were ok. After that point, our waitress (or any of the servers) failed to notice we had empty plates and empty drink cups. Also, CP and I had wanted to order more food, but it took the waitress too long to bring a menu, and then again too long to come and ask what we’d like, that we just decided to go since we had a movie to catch.
Other than that chicken mishap and sub-par service, CP and I had a lovely dinner. The sushi is definitely great and a must have when going to Shimbashi Izakaya. I would come back next time just for the sushi and also just over order because apparently that’s the only way one can ensure they get food.
1555 Camino Del Mar, Suite 201
Del Mar, CA 92014