I don’t get down south too often, but I’m glad I did when I visited Shimbashi Izakaya in Del Mar. We were lucky that it was a gorgeous day because the restaurant is located in an ideal spot overlooking a glorious view of the ocean. The view alone is enough, but this izakaya offers some really delicious fare definitely worthy of the drive down.
The restaurant’s interior is also trendy and chic. It reminds me of izakayas I’ve been to in San Francisco, where the atmosphere also is in perfect alignment with the food.
Tako Wasabi ($4) is always a favorite of mine. I don’t know what it is about the slippery feel of the fresh tako (octopus) in my mouth that makes me crave it bite after bite. My friends didn’t appreciate this as much as I did so I had no problem polishing it off all on my own.
Yellowtail with Jalapeno ($18) was a lovely start to our meal. The ponzu marinade was a perfectly tart start while the jalapeno added a little kick to the mix.
If you love mushrooms, try the Mix Mushroom Saute in Butter Sauce ($8) — so delicious with a blend of shimeiji, shitake and oyster mushrooms. It’s the perfect izakaya dish to go with some sake or beer.
Shiobuta ($8) grilled salted pork belly was recommended by our server and is flavorful. I’m not a big fan of pork belly but one of my dining companions absolutely LOVED it.
And who doesn’t love Chicken Kara-age ($7.50), tender pieces of fried chicken which you squeeze some fresh lemon juice over. I would’ve liked the chicken to have been cut a little smaller so they were a little more ‘bite-sized’ but still, it was SO good.
We ordered the Assorted Sushi Platter ($15) for one of the less adventurous palates in our party and all the fish was so fresh and filled with umami. I ended up eating a few pieces off this and it was excellent if all you wanted was sushi.
La Fresca Roll ($19) is Shimbashi’s signature sushi roll with spicy tuna, avocado, cilantro topped with yellowtail, pico de gallo, garlic oil, sesame seeds and ponzu sauce. Although I’m generally not a fan of rolls, I loved this because it was simple, fresh and didn’t possess mayo which I find absolutely offensive in sushi. Rice and mayo just do not go well together.
When I saw Nasu Miso Itame ($9) on the menu, I just HAD to order it. I’m a huge fan of eggplant and I always order nasu miso when I see it. The addition of blue lake beans gave it an added crunch.
I really enjoyed the Grilled Beef Tongue ($9), albeit it was cut just a tad too thick so was a bit too chewy for my friends, but I liked it. Served with two dipping sauces — a salt and sesame oil, and a umami-filled soy based sauce.
It is sad for me that in order to find a quality izakaya, I have to drive all the way to Del Mar. There isn’t one in Orange County I would say that comes even close to this. So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and enjoy some drinks and some delicious plates. I suggest going during the day or just around sunset to REALLY soak in everything the restaurant has to offer.
1555 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014
Everything is so gorgeous–the restaurant, the view, the FOOD! Definitely a great find.
Regarding having no izakayas in OC, I would suggest giving Honda-Ya in Tustin a try, if you haven’t yet. Caveat – I’ve never been to Shimbashi, so I can’t compare the two, however.
Mad Hungry Woman says
I’m actually not a fan of Honda-Ya at all. I keep giving them another chance and each time they have let me down. I haven’t been back in years. The food is not top quality and the only things going for them is that they are open late and it’s relatively cheap. Meijiya in Costa Mesa is a far better izakaya and that still doesn’t come close to Shimbashi. I’m just spoiled from the great izakayas I used to frequent when living in the Bay Area.