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Jun 8, 2009 02:15 PM

Shimbashi-New Izakaya In Del Mar

We tried out this recently-opened restaurant in the Del Mar Plaza this Sunday and thought it was really quite good. (It is in the same spot as the sushi restaurant used to be, but has been extensively remodelled). I am far from an expert on this type of Japanese food, but I thought it was really good. The menu was not as varied as Sakura and Okan, and was certainly much more pricey. Apparently all of the veggies are organic and come from Chino Farms and I believe they said the meat was "local" as well. We tried a sashimi salad (excellent), specialty sushi roll (very good), gyoza (best I've ever had), tempura (good, but not as good as Okan) and a few other dishes I can't remember. We at a lot, and it was close to $50/person.

All in all a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but because of the prices I cannot put it on my everyday rotation. I realize the rent can't be cheap there and they use high quality ingredients, but I will have to reserve the spot for special occasions. I am not sure if the Del Mar crowd will warm up to this type of restaurant, but I sure hope it works out.

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    1. re: stevewag23

      Not too busy. I would say 3/4 full. The place is pretty small...maybe 6 tables of 4 plus a sushi bar. There is also a u-shaped bar that seats around 12. I have not seen any advertising and the location in the plaza is not likely to get much pedestrian traffic. It did have a nice vibe and is very unique to that neighborhood. Because the food is so far off of the offerings in the usual japanese restaurants in North County (no teriyaki chicken to be found) I hope that it works out for them.

    2. hmm, will have to check it out. How does it compare to Yumeya? Are they open for lunch?

      3 Replies
      1. re: daantaat

        What a coincidence, I also want to know if they're open for lunch. Read about the place in the Japanese SD magazine and read some reviews on Yelp. Normally I'd go to Convoy but this place is 5 minutes from me so I've been thinking to check it out. I need a local Japanese place to send the wife while I watch the baby so it has to be close.

        Update: According to the latest Yuyu Japanese magazine, on Sat/Sun they are now starting to offer lunch. Here are the exclusive details according to my wife:
        Menu is fixed price with salad (chili shrimp sauce), Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), 3 kinds of sashimi, spicy tuna roll, miso soup.

        Will report back if she ends up going.

        1. re: daantaat

          Well obviously they aren't Yumeya (really unique home cooking, lots of winners), but I'd say it's worth trying for lunch. The lunch set is big and priced accordingly, but it's a good sampling of well made Japanese food.

          Yumeya is a pain to get into, waiting in line at 5:30pm? They're doing something right!

          1. re: royaljester

            Will have to check out Shimbashi sometime.

        2. Went last night. My take, Food was alright. Expensive, wasn't impressed.

          1 Reply
          1. Wife went a few weeks back and had a great time with friends. She brought the lunch set to go for me. It's a pretty big meal, but totally loved the jumbo Karaage (biggest any of us have seen). Sashimi was great, great meal overall.

            Can't say anything about dinner, but the lunch set is nice. Will post photos when I get around to it.

            1. I went about two weeks ago with a few friends for dinner, sort of. It was after work/after happy hour, but not quite full on dinner. Anyway, the food was very good. The bartender was very knowledgeable and pointed me toward a bottle of sake that was right up my alley (not too dry, unfiltered).

              The chicken karaage (5 pcs) was fried well, but lacking a bit on the salt. The takowasabi had a great balance of wasabi-to-octopus for me (I like a heavier wasabi flavor). I like their Shimbashi's version the most of any kind, including Yakitori Yakyudori's. My friend got some special that involved three small plates (a few bites small, like 2 pieces of sashimi) paired with three sake shots. The halibut sashimi was unimpressive, I forget what the second food item was, and the roasted gingko nuts were fantastic bar food. The ankimo's texture was pretty good, although I don't recall it being the most flavorful.

              The stunner of the night was the incredible chicken porridge my friend got. Even though I had already paid my bill and was getting ready to leave I damn near ordered one and would have stuffed it down with great delight. Even though there wasn't that much seaweed in it the broth had a beautiful "of the ocean" seafood flavor that was strong but not overpowering and still allowed you to taste the other ingredients. I was thoroughly impressed.

              Overall, on my visit, the food was pretty well executed. The flavors were mostly balanced and not too subtle. I'll have to go back for round 2... and the chicken porridge!