I love discovering new places, especially ones known for fresh Japanese food. Sometimes getting away from the familiar and going to someplace new works wonders for your sense of adventure. For a fan of Japanese food, Shimabashi Izakaya should be on their must-try list.
Shimbashi Izakaya is located in Del Mar right along scenic Camino Del Mar. They offer indoor and outdoor seating; it’s a no-brainer to choose outside for the fresh air and ocean view.
One sign this is an authentic Japanese establishment is the menu is bilingual with photos highlighting all the dishes. Shimbashi Izakaya specializes in small plates to share and large entrees for bigger appetites. While I’m all for large entrees, the small plates at Shimbashi give you a little taste of everything on the menu.
Starters like the roasted ginko nuts ($5) are served on top of kosher salt. The nuts are freshly toasted with the tops removed, revealing their meaty interior. It’s a perfect appetizer with drinks, and you can nibble while pondering your next courses. The extensive menu is separated into different sections: appetizer, soup & salad, stir fried, fried, grilled, rice & noodles, hotpot, sushi/sashimi, rolls/hand rolls, specialty rolls and dessert. Whew! The helpful servers and attentive manager are available to guide you.
For those unfamiliar with ginko nuts, they taste like soybeans. They are very tender and meaty but one caveat: eat too much and it could cause gastrointestial problems. And touching them raw can have a bad skin reaction. With that said, I suffered no after effects and found them to be better than peanuts and enjoyed the alternating tastes between sweet and slightly bitter. Trying ginko nuts at Shimbaya Izakaya is an excellent introduction.
Another recommended item is the agedashi tofu ($6) served in a shallow bowl with dashi broth. This has become my favorite go-to dish at any Japanese restaurant and Shimbashi Izakaya’s tofu is lightly coated with tempura batter.
We couldn’t seem to stray too far from the fried section when the lobster tempura ($13.50) caught our eye. Half a slipper tail lobster is dipped in tempura batter, fried and served with a side salad dressed with a ginger dressing. This dish was nearly impossible to tear away from Paul. Between its tartar sauce and greaseless tempura it’s perfect. Order two if there is more than one lobster fan in your party.
I always try sushi at a Japanese establishment to rate its freshness. Shimbashi Izakaya did not disappoint.
Among Shimbashi Izakaya’s recommended items of the day was the simmered duck nigiri sushi ($9). The duck is lightly cooked, cut across the grain and placed atop of sushi rice. No additional seasoning is needed beyond the tiny dab of hot mustard on top of each piece. Completely unique but absolutely delicious.
Slightly less adventurous but not lacking in taste is their Del Mar roll ($20), which piqued my attention because of the name. Garlic-seasoned potatoes and asparagus is rolled into sushi rice and topped with seared beef and crispy onions with spicy mayo. For sushi aficionados, this roll may be too basic but the chef’s choice sashimi (prices vary) may be right up your alley.
The chef’s choice for this day was yellowtail, salmon and tuna topped with jalapeno and a fine sprinkling of garlic-infused oil. The bare accompaniments highlights the freshness. For ultra-fresh fans who don’t mind a little squiggling on their plate, there’s a selection of live clams, shrimp and scallops ($8.50-$22). Check the daily recommendations to see what’s available.
For this Mother’s Day, Shimbashi Izakaya is offering a choice of ankake pan-fried salmon or crab meat-stuffed chicken breast with plum basil sauce. All entrees are served with tuna poki, a mini sashimi bowl, green tea mousse and lychee sherbet for $28 a person. The offer is good through Sunday, May 13.
Reservations either the Mother’s Day special or any meal are highly recommended.
1555 Camino Del Mar #201
Del Mar, CA 92104
The meal was provided complimentary of Shimbashi Izakaya and BAM Communications. Opinions are entirely my own.