Last night I organized a dinner with a group of fellow Orlando foodies and food bloggers to Shin Sushi. Many of us had heard it was the best in town, obviously a debate that will go on and on, so I thought it would be fun for all of us to go and see what the consensus was.
We had a group of 14 and Shin was happy to oblige, though we did not reveal the "special occasion" I think all the high quality cameras and picture taking by many of the attendees may have given us away.
In attendance were the following friends, food bloggers and their guests @ricduck, @Ann_archy, @ladyskye77, @PrimlaniKitchen of The Primlani Kitchen, @TravelerFoodie of travelerfoodie.com/, @mismamari of Forkful.net, @randomhangers of randomhangers.com .
The decor is simple but clean wood and silver, the metal chairs kind of surprised me, as I'd always assumed Shin was quite fancy, but luckily I found my chair to be very comfortable. There is plenty of free parking along the street in front and free parking in the garage just behind the restaurant.
Service was pleasant and the server was excited to tell us about special menu items and was enthusiastic about certain rolls he liked, though with a big group a few people didn't get their extra ginger and other sides as quickly as we would have liked.
I've eaten sushi a number of times at Ichiban downtown years ago and a couple of other times at Amura, but I often forget the names of the different ways sushi is prepared, which seemed to be a common experience among many diners. I've summarized the different ways sushi is served at the bottom for reference.
The server failed to mention 2 special items which were not on the menu but were barely legible on the marker board behind the sushi bar:
- Hamachi Kama - it was described to us as the jaw and cheek of yellowtail (more info)
- Fried Oyster Roll - server was a bit vague about this one and none of our party ended up ordering it
I found the Hamachi Kama description exciting so I ordered a one for us to all try. Separating out a bite for each person was a bit of a challenge but many did get to try some. I thought it was quite delicious especially the large chunks of meat that had some of the crisp skin attached to it, it was a nice blend of flavors.
For my main dinner I ordered 2 pieces of Nigiri, Toro(tuna belly) and Uni(sea urchin). I've actually prepared Tuna Belly at home on the grill(some say cooking it is a sin) before and I love the flavor when I've prepared it but served as sushi it didn't do much for me.
For my main sushi rolls I ordered:
- "HIGHWAY 50" $12 (Tuna, cucumber, cream cheese, Sriracha sauce topped with smoked salmon, and avocado) this roll sounded delicious but it's flavors were too mild for me.
- "EEL DRAGON" $15 (Half fillet of freshwater eel, cucumber, sweet onion, cream cheese, drizzled with eel sauce) - this was my favorite item of the night by far The cooked eel was unbelievably good. I'm not exactly sure how this is prepared but it seemed to be pan grilled and it had a sweet delicious glaze on it. I could order just the eel on rice and be quite happy.
I also tried some spicy tuna which was decent but not really my kind of thing.
Traveler Foodie(link) was the most knowledgeable among us about the different types of Sushi, Sake and fish, so he was dubbed the sushi whisperer. He recommended we try the horse mackerel but unfortunately they did not have it that day. They did have one of his other recommendations of Uni(sea urchin), so I ordered a piece of that Nigiri style. It was a light orange color and very soft. The flavor reminded me of a light touch of butter, I wasn't sure what to expect but it was surprisingly good.
@ricduck Foodspotted(photographed) quite a few items, you can see his pictures here: http://www.foodspotting.com/starlighthill
BEEF KUSHI KATSU | 8
Four bite-size, crispy, deep-fried with panko, Angus Beef and vegetable skewers
Some other interesting menu items we spotted were:
YUZU SCALLOPS | 19
Five pan-fried jumbo scallops wrapped in bacon, sautéed in Yuzu with a soy sauce-butter reduction
LOBSTER VOLCANO | 22
California roll topped with Shin volcano & tempura Lobster
MANGO SALMON | 8
Salmon, mango, cucumber, sesame seeds
KARA MUCHO | 9
Tuna, salmon, escolar , cucumber, with homemade habanero
puree topped with masago and scallions
Sashimi - just the piece of uncooked fish
Nigiri - same as above but with a small cylinder of sushi rice underneath often with a little band of seaweed to hold it together
Rolls(Maki) - traditional sushi rolls most people are familiar with
Tempura - a type of breading used on shrimp, asparagus in some Maki(rolls) and many non-sushi dishes most notably Tempura Vegetables.
An interesting fact/misconception that many people don't realize is that most sushi isn't actually made with truly raw fish, most of it is previously frozen for food safety. "In the US all fish served raw (like for sushi) has to be previously frozen in order to ensure that all parasites are dead. The only exception is tuna. You can serve raw tuna that wasn't frozen because it's not prone to parasites", More info at the link below
Shin Sushi is open for lunch and dinner and is located in the same building as Virgin Olive Market and Citrus restaurant. On Orange Ave just north of 50/colonial.
Dinner Menu: http://www.shinsushi.com/Shin%20menu%20dinner%202011%5B1%5D.pdf
Shin Roll Menu: http://www.shinsushi.com/New%20rollsm2011%5B1%5D.pdf
Lunch-Monday through Friday, 11:30am ~ 2:00pm (Last call 1:45pm)
Dinner-Monday through Saturday, 6:00pm ~ 10:00pm(Last call 9:30pm)