Saturday, July 28, 2007

Shiro Japanese restaurant

After having been watching our money following our San Diego, I was in the mood for something a bit more than a sandwich for lunch when I got paid on Friday. I'd read that the chef from the old Ayako at the Biltmore mall had opened a place at Tatum and Shea. Since that's close enough for me to go for lunch, I decided to try it. It's tucked away among the shops in the horribly designed mall on the NE corner of the intersection. The traffic pattern is horrible, but I've noticed that a lot of the malls around here are similarly challenged.

Being a new place, the interior is very nice. A long, dark-wood sushi bar lines the left side, with a boomerang-like shape. About 17 seats line it. Small tables line the immediate entry way until the space widens at the bend in the sushi bar. Quite a few tables are in the deceptively deep restaurant. There were a few tables taken, but no one was at the bar, which is where I sat.

Since it was my first time, I ordered my staples: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and unagi. I also got a shrimp tempura roll. I handed my order to the sushi chef in front of me and looked over the menu while I waited. They have several bento box lunch specials with various combinations for sushi, sashimi, tempura, and meats. There are a lot of cooked dishes I didn't recognize, so I'm guessing they might be more of a native Japanese thing than I'm used to.

After a little while, my three raw sushi choices arrived. Long, narrow pieces of fish sat atop nicely sized rice chunks. The fish wasn't cut with any care for presentation. Frayed edges were apparent on the salmon. It all tasted ok. Nothing special, but no fishy tastes or smells.

My shrimp tempura roll arrived next. A fairly small, five-piece roll was on a small boat-shaped dish. Instead of the usual sweet eel sauce, the back 1/4 of the dish had a deep pool of a ginger-based sauce. The roll was ok and the sauce was interesting, if nothing else. It kind of reminded me of a ginger salad dressing with a darker soy mixed with it, so it wasn't sweet at all. I guess they should get some credit for being different, but it wasn't my thing. I love ginger, so it wasn't that. I'm sure some people will really enjoy it.

The letdown of the meal was the eel. I noticed that it wasn't very hot coming out of the toaster oven, but it was warm. I'm pretty sure part of it wasn't cooked all the way, so it very mushy. I managed to swallow it, but it was a far cry from the sublime unagi I had recently at Hana on 7th Ave.

Service was acceptable until the end. Once the waiter took my credit card, he set it down by the register and I didn't get it back for a good ten or fifteen minutes. I could see both waiters hanging around that area, but mostly they were watching the muted TVs above the bar which had coverage of the horrible helicopter crash that at that point had just happened. I was getting ready to walk over and ask what was up when he finally brought it over.

Overall it was a let down. Yasu Bistro just up Tatum at Cactus or Kampai Sushi on Bell are much better choices. Yasu is much more adventurous and Kampai does the basics very well.
My bill came to $28 after tax. Given the presentation and iffy quality of the cooked eel, it's not the best deal. Luckily, dinner was our anniversary celebration at Durant's.

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