Thursday, September 13, 2012
Eating out: Jin Sho
Three days in a row! I can't believe it either. While it's fun writing posts about new places to eat, the truth is...I don't really have access to my TV. Since my kitchen is being worked on, all my furniture has been squished into my living room. I could technically watch TV sitting at my dining table which is right up against my sofa, but it doesn't make for a very relaxing environment. So instead, my current living space is limited to my bedroom, and at least I have access to the internet here.
Tonight I sort of cheated. This is my second time to Jin Sho, a kind of upscale Japanese restaurant that serves things like ceviche and lamb chop (the lamb is cooked, thankfully). In fact, their website specifies that they are "Executive Class", and the chefs hail from the famous Nobu in New York City. I didn't know this until I looked at their website right now.
There are no bento boxes here, but they offer two prix fixe menus (which they spell, "pris fix"), along with a good selection of entrees, rolls, and sushi. The prix fixe meals are the way to go, which are around $20 or $25, and offers a nice mix of traditional sushi rolls with more unlikely Japanese inspired creations like duck breast served with a little scoop (and I mean really little) of mashed potatoes. Kind of unusual, but somehow it works. Oh, and when you see words like "avo" and "cu" on the menu, they mean "avocado" and "cucumber".
Even though I recommend the prix fixe dinner (which I got the first time I came here), I went with the nabeyaki soba. It's not officially on the menu--I had them substitute udon noodles with soba noodles. I often order this when I go to a Japanese restaurant because I like how comforting a hot bowl of soup and noodles feels. The broth was flavorful and had a certain delicateness to it, the egg was perfectly poached, and even the boiled chicken did not taste disgusting. That may sound like a low bar, but I've never liked the boiled chicken in my nabeyaki soba (or boiled chicken period), and Jin Sho seems to know how to use the right pieces and balance this with the other ingredients in the soup.
For dessert, my dinner companion and I split a mango panna cotta. I think the Japanese have a fascination with Western desserts, but their take on it always comes out slightly different. The panna cotta was definitely served without any frills--they just plopped it on a plate. Nonetheless, theirs was on par with what I've had at Italian restaurants--smooth, creamy, rich but not too thick, and the mango flavoring did not taste artificial.
Overall, the presentation is careful, the preparation is thoughtful and creative, but the portions are a little conservative, which is to be expected at a place like this. The ambiance isn't particularly special, but it's unobtrusive. For a Thursday night, it was not as bustling as I would have expected--there were a few empty tables, though there were a good number of patrons.
I think after this meal, I am going back to low brow fare, though. As much as I appreciate well-prepared and innovative food, something closer to a home cooked meal is what I really crave. And besides, I already feel my waistline expanding, and my credit card could use a break.
Jin Sho is on California Avenue