Some days, you need to break out of the ordinary and go out somewhere exciting for lunch or dinner. In Del Mar, there are many choices for a scrumptious meal, but there are very few restaurants like Shimbashi Izakaya. Located at the Del Mar Plaza, the seasonal Japanese tapas and sake bar has authentic cuisine, an incredible selection of cocktails and sake, and an atmosphere that can’t be beat… It’s just enough to shake up your dining out routine and will probably become one of your favorite restaurants. Here’s what we love about Shimbashi.
Taste the Only Authentic Japanese Cuisine in North County
Shimbashi Izakaya opened with the goal of bringing authentic, home-style Japanese dishes, sushi, and sashimi to North County. With a menu that focuses on seasonal ingredients, you can expect fresh, high-quality fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients every time you visit. The menu reflects the seasonality of ingredients and will showcase monthly specials that highlight the ingredients that are in season. For example, Shimbashi uses real crab in its sushi rolls—not imitation crab—and does not use any frozen items in their dishes. If you walk in during a slower period, you’ll be able to catch the chefs cutting and deboning fresh fish at the sushi counter.
While the restaurant relies on local and season ingredients, it flies in specialty items directly from Japan. The chefs tell us that Japanese Yellowtail (as opposed to what’s caught off the shores of California) tastes better raw, and is a better option in sushi and sashimi. They also fly in Japanese Wagyu beef—a specialty you might find at a fine steakhouse but is often missing from local Japanese restaurant menus.
Experience a Dining Atmosphere Unique to Del Mar
Depending on where you opt to sit, you might feel you’re dining at a completely different restaurant. Because it’s located in the Del Mar Plaza, Shimbashi has breathtaking ocean views that can be enjoyed from the restaurant’s patio. Inside, you can choose from three dining sections: the fish counter, sake bar, or traditional dining room.
At the fish counter, you can interact with the sushi chefs, see them in action, and ask for recommendations. The dining room has a cozier atmosphere, and the booths can feel a little more intimate. A seat at the sake bar tends to feel a bit more jovial, as diners share stories and chitchat with the bartender while dining.
Even though there is a different experience depending on where you sit, you can always order off the same menu and ask for recommendations from Shimbashi’s staff if you need help exploring the menu or deciding on a sake to sip.
Give Shimbashi a Try
If you’ve dined at a Japanese restaurant before or consider yourself a sushi or sashimi connoisseur, Shimbashi is the perfect place to try something new. The Omakase Course lets the chef choose your courses for you. Translated from Japanese, omakase means “to trust”—you’re trusting the chef to put together dishes from the kitchen and sushi bar that are to your liking and pair the perfect sake with your meal.
If you’re new to the world of Japanese cuisine, there’s no harm in starting with a local favorite—the California roll. Made with crab, avocado, and cucumber, it’s a great roll for getting your feet wet, so to speak. You can also try a cooked or tempura roll, if the idea of raw fish makes you squeamish. The menu explains what’s in each sushi roll or cooked dish so you know exactly what you’re ordering. And of course, if you have any questions or dietary requirements, Shimbashi’s staff can help you find something you’d like.
Being an izakaya, or pub, you should make a point to try one of Shimbashi’s many specialty libations. You can order a Japanese beer or choose from hundreds of different sakes; they make for a more authentic experience and will be the cherry on top of a delicious night (or day) out.
Visit Shimbashi Izakaya online to make a reservation or view their menu. And don’t forget to check out Del Mar Plaza’s website for shopping, services, and other dining options.