Restaurant Spotlight: 10 Things to Know About Shimbashi Izakaya’s Japanese Cuisine


Next time you’re considering going out to eat, whether for lunch or dinner, grab a table at Shimbashi Izakaya. Located at the Del Mar Plaza, the restaurant boasts ocean views, fresh food, and authentic Japanese cuisine. Whether you’ve been frequenting Shimbashi for years or are looking for a new spot to dine, here are 10 things you might not have known about the restaurant that might make your next visit seem a little more special.

  1. The restaurant is designed to replicate a true Japanese izakaya.

An izakaya, or Japanese pub, is a cornerstone of Japanese culture. It’s a place where people get together with friends and relax and unwind after a long day of work. It’s a place to share a great time and a place to share your food. That’s why you’ll find plates that can be split among your group, giving you the opportunity to try a little bit of everything.

  1. It’s the only real authentic Japanese food in North County.

When the owners sought out to open Shimbashi, they decided on Del Mar because they knew the Japanese cuisine would stand out. They wanted to offer their patrons authentic dishes and home-style cooking they couldn’t find elsewhere in North County.

  1. The fish is always fresh and never frozen.

While other sushi restaurants might use imitation crab, Shimbashi always uses real crab in its sushi rolls. In fact, the restaurant always uses fresh ingredients, never anything frozen. And if you come in during a slower period, you’ll even be able to see the chefs cutting and deboning the day’s catch at the sushi counter.

  1. Shimbashi uses fresh, local ingredients as well.

The fish isn’t the only thing that’s fresh. Shimbashi uses fresh, locally grown, seasonal ingredients in its dishes and sushi rolls. The menu and specials change monthly to reflect and highlight what’s in season, so every time you come back, you can expect to try something different.

  1. However, the restaurant’s most important ingredients are flown in from Japan.

Shimbashi flies in its specialty items—like Wagyu beef—straight in from Japan. Another item that’s flown in is the Japanese Yellowtail; the chefs say it tastes better raw than what’s caught off the shores of California, and is the better choice to use in sushi and sashimi.

  1. The different seating areas each have their own vibe.

Every seating area in the restaurant has its own atmosphere, which can give you a different dining experience. The outdoor patio has a casual atmosphere with ocean views; the sushi counter gives you a kind of behind-the-scenes look at your food prep; the sake bar gives you the opportunity to chat with the bartender and other guests; and the dining room has a cozy, intimate atmosphere perfect for a date or group setting. So depending on where you choose to sit, you may feel like you’re in a completely different restaurant.

  1. The Omakase Course is the best way to sample the restaurant’s best.

Translated from Japanese, omakase means “to trust,” and with the Omakase Course, you’re trusting the chef to choose the best dishes from the kitchen and sushi bar. The chef will create your personalized menu based on your food allergies and tastes, and will even help you pair the perfect sake with your meal.

  1. Sushi-newbies don’t have to feel intimidated.

If you’re new to the world of Japanese cuisine, you don’t have to feel intimidated by the menu at Shimbashi. The menu explains what’s in each sushi roll or cooked dish so you know exactly what you’re ordering. And of course, you can always start with a tried-and-true California roll, which is made with crab, avocado, and cucumber.

  1. The bar is stocked with hundreds of types of sake.

Because it is modeled after a traditional izakaya, the restaurant is stocked with plenty of sake. Shimbashi also has Japanese beer to pair with your meal to make for a more authentic experience.

  1. The staff can make recommendations to help you find your favorite dish and/or pairing.

Aside from the chef giving you recommendations as part of the Omakase Course, the rest of the staff can help you make a delicious decision as well. From their favorite (and locally-loved) sushi rolls, to the best sake and entrée pairing, all you have to do is ask for their guidance and you’ll be happily on your way to try something new and delicious.

If sushi isn’t your thing, you can still find somewhere special to dine at the Del Mar Plaza. Visit us online for a full directory of restaurants.