Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shinjuku Station

What do you think when you go to a sushi restaurant and the waiter says "we're not you're standard sushi joint -we're more traditional"?  Then what do you think when he says, "we don't have the rolls with avocado, cream cheese and the deep fried rolls"?  Like most, you probably think, "well, lets see if they have some chicken fingers on the menu."

You're in double luck.  First, you don't need to worry about what a traditional sushi restaurant is like.  Though many of the items may not appear on your typical sushi menu, the food here is fantastic.  Second, they do have chicken fingers.

A recent trip for lunch provided an eye-opening experience as to what traditional sushi means.  In short, I think it means less "TCU roll" and more real sushi.  Shinjuku serves a variety of items that range from familiar to new.  With standby options like edamame, a sushi list and some miso soups, you'll also find Donburi (rice) bowls, hama chili, tempura enoki mushrooms and some of the best fries in town.

There were two of us on this trip, Elliott joined me again (who was owed a nice restaurant trip after our trip to Dos Amigos), so we decided to split some tok fries and we each got a BYOB (build your own bento). 

First, the fries.  These might be the best fries in town.  They are large, fresh cut potato slices that are cooked so that they're crispy on the outside but hot and tender on the inside.  Normally with fries this size they are limp or chewy.  Not the case at the restaurant recently listed as one of the Top Ten New Restaurants in Texas per Texas Monthly Magazine.  But let me caution you on the fries.  The provided condiment may result in childish humor that is uncontrollable.  its called...furikake.  This is a two part dip with a name that sounds like something you can't say too fast.  The first dip is a wet mayo-esque dip.  The other is a dry condiment normally used on rice.  Its a mixture of dried fish, seaweed, salt, sesame seeds and a dusting of crack.  After dipping your tok fries in the mayo substance, you fun-dip style dip your fry into the furikake.  It sounds as delicious as eating dried fish.  But it tastes much, much better.  Like fifteen times better.  Actually, its fantastic.  The flavors will be new to most people but not offensive.  In fact, I probably could have eaten a bowl of furikake if I wasn't afraid of the ridicule.

Tok Fries with furikake.  Thanks to for the picture.
In the bento boxes, Elliott and I had similar items.  We both had the chilled green tea soba noodles, the spinach salad, and chef's selection of sushi.  I opted for the tempura selection while he tried the chicken karaaga.  There were mixed reviews on the noodles and salad.  The noodles, as advertised, were chilled.  I didn't think they had a lot of flavor and Elliott said he would not make inappropriate comments to them in the dark (or as he said, "I wasn't in love with them").  He wasn't particularly fond of the salad either but I thought it was delicious.  The dressing wasn't too acidic or pungent for the spinach and it had a nice sweetness. 

The chef's special sushi was loved by all.  We had four pieces of a roll and two pieces of sushi.  I can't really remember what they were but none were eel or shark tail.  They tasted fresh and the waiter remarked that his chefs buy the fish fresh each day and tear it down themselves.  So you know you're getting good stuff and none of it came from the Trinity.  Despite JD Granger's pleas to enjoy the fresh catch of the day at the tubin' parties.

Along with the sushi, salad and noodles, my bento box came with the tempura selection which included shrimp, lotus root, kabocha pumpkin and enoki mushroom.  I'm not sure what three of those are, but they tasted good.  The tempura was crisp and the items inside were hot and cooked well.  The pumpkin wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped but the rest were very flavorful.  It's also not kabocha pumpkin season yet, which may have had something to do with the flavor. 

Elliott had the chicken karaaga (chicken strips) and as he said, 'they really pleased my 12 year old palette".  I didn't ask to taste them but they looked good.  And who knew the traditional Japanese menu included chicken strips?  Maybe the bento box was the original happy meal. 

I can see now why this place has had all the love from yuppies, hippies and foodies galore.  Even if you're not one of the above, you should go.  The restaurant is in a beautifully restored old building on Magnolia across from the Paris Coffee Shop.  The food is fantastic and they have a really unique menu that could provide a number of options to help you explore old Japan. 

If you've been and would like to tell me how right or wrong I am, please feel free to do so in the comments. 

Shinjuku Station is located at 711 W. Magnolia Ave.  Check them out and share your feedback for the world.
Shinjuku Station on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Tip from a Shinjuku pro: the Vegan furikake is five times better than the default version.

Their cocktails are delicious and rival the fare just down the street at The Usual.

For a delicious take on fried fish, get the whole fried snapper and have them serve up the bones as a daring treat for "would be" adventurous eaters.

Ask to sit with either Lynne or Dee. While all staff have been wonderful, these two ladies have become a highlight of our trips to The Station.

Finally, Shinjuku Gods, we beg you - bring back the lychee pirin! There was a time when no meal was complete without it and now we're left with a competent key lime pie to fill the void of a heavenly creation heretofore unknown to residents of Fort Worth.

- A Fan

KimberlyDi said...

Wonderful review of a truly fun and tasty place. I loved the fries also. I should go back soon!

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

A Fan, thanks for the inside knowledge. And Shinjuku the people have spoken, we need lychee pirin. And we need it now.

Kimberly, if you go back and get the tok fries check out the previous commenter's hint about the vegan furikake.

bourgon said...

Thanks for this - I've loved it the times I've gone, and the idea that my kid can eat sushi without allergies appeals. And my wife likes Tok fries, so, "all good".

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Also, with the abrupt change in weather we've had in the last week, the patio has become a viable option. There is a huge patio on the backside of the restaurant that is shaded by a tree and the building.


andres said...