Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kaisen Sumibiyaki Shinsenmaru

My husband took me to this great Izakaya (Japanese bar and grill type restaurant) a few weeks ago. He had his eye on it for quite some time, but recently I have been very picky about what type of food I am in the mood for. He finally convinced me, and we both really enjoyed it! We plan to visit again sometime when I can get up the nerve to call in and make a reservation in Japanese.

When we arrived, there was a valet outside. Since there was an open parking spot right across from the door, we just parked and walked in, but we saw him retrieve a car for another couple after they had finished their meal. I believe his main job is to make sure customers aren't parked in spaces where they'll get towed.

After you go through the large entrance way, you'll climb a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant. They have mostly Western style tables that are separated into rows by wall dividers. It's dimly lit like you'd expect a bar restaurant to be. They told us when we arrived at 6:00 pm that we needed to be finished by 8:00 pm because they were booked solid for the night. I would recommend making a reservation if you plan to try this place!

The food there was fairly good, and not too expensive. They served a variety of a la carte items, including pizza, salad, yakitori, assorted appetizers, and a big variety of sushi and sashimi. Prices for each individual item were around ¥300-¥400 for the smaller items like yakitori or some of the nigiri sushi. Pizzas were a little more expensive, around ¥600 for the one we tried, but some were more expensive. The pizzas were a little small, if my husband had ordered only it, he would've left hungry. They come in 6 pieces, about the size of a small in the states. Some of the larger items and the set arrangements of sushi and sashimi were around ¥1,200 or so.

It was pretty dark inside, so we couldn't take pictures of our food, but we enjoyed it! I loved their vegetable Kimchee, and I also ordered an asparagus and bacon kebab. We ordered a set arrangement of sashimi, and two kinds of nigiri sushi. Their fish was very good! We both loved it. My husband also ordered fried cheese, which was essentially a cheddar cheese lumpia, and it came with ketchup and mayonnaise. He also tried the Potato pizza. It was good, but not at all what we expected! It had mashed potatoes on a thin crust with no sauce, and it was covered in cheese and a mayo sauce. Next time, I would rather try the taco pizza, it sounded good! We got out for only ¥4910, which is pretty good for the amount of food and drinks we had ordered.

The best deal there seemed to be the drinks. They have a great special where if you ask for it ahead of time, every alcoholic drink you order for an hour's time is only ¥105. Kirin Draft beer and their cocktails are usually ¥399. I ordered a soft drink, which was ¥300 or so, but beware there are no free refills! My husband ordered two draft beers, and ended up paying ¥210, while we paid ¥600 for my oolong teas!

The staff spoke fairly good English. However, I will warn you that the English menu they brought us didn't include the list for sushi or sashimi, the day's specials, or the drink menu. I am unclear whether there is a printed English drink menu or not- he seemed to understand that I could read a little, and since we didn't order mixed cocktails it wasn't an issue for us.

So how much Japanese should you know to go here?

Overall, you could probably get away with little to no Japanese knowledge, if you are smart about reading the menu. If you don't read Japanese, but want sushi or sashimi, there are a few premade sets of each. You will be able to identify them on the menu because they are more expensive than everything else listed, and they have numbered how many kinds of fish come in the set. If that fails, you can point at the pretty picture of the set on the menu, and your server should be able to help you from there. Don't do this if you are picky about fish, because our sashimi had both ika (cuttlefish) and tako (octopus) sashimi in it! Luckily, I like ika and my husband can stomach anything.

If you are fairly proficient at reading Katakana, you will be able to make out everything on the drink menu. If you know both Hiragana and Katakana, you can read about 90% of the sushi and sashimi list. I have taken some Japanese classes in college, and I was able to read everything I wanted to on the menu, albeit slowly! There was some kanji that I didn't completely remember, but it is pretty self explanatory what it means.

If you are calling to make a reservation, I think it would help to know some Japanese, but you could probably get away with just leaving your name, a time, and the number of people in English.


Kaisen Sumibiyaki Shinsenmaru is located on top of the Lawson convenience store on the corner of Route 75 and Route 8.

From Courtney, simply hang a left onto Route 75, and continue until you see the Lawson at Route 8. You can turn straight into the Lawson parking lot, just be careful not to park in the marked "Lawson Customer" spots. (The first letter in Lawson in Japanese looks like an empty square box.) Or use the valet.

From McTureous, take a right on Route 8 immediately out the gate. The Izakaya will be on the left immediately after KFC.

From Foster or Kadena, make your way to Route 330, and head north. Route 330 will turn into Route 75 as you enter Uruma city, so just continue straight until you see signs for Route 8. The restaurant will be on the left, so turn onto Route 8, and then hang the first right into the parking lot.


View Kaisen Sumibiyaki Shinsenmaru in a larger map

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