The newest hotspot in downtown Oakland is a swanky Japanese izakaya joint.
Shinmai opened over the summer and already it’s poppin. We arrived for an early dinner and within 30-45 minutes the restaurant was full. The menu is small and straightforward with just a few crudos, izakaya style dishes, robata dishes, and two ramens. We ordered a variety of dishes from each category to see what the hype was all about.
Luscious slices of vibrant orange ocean trout were dressed with olive oil, a sprinkle of sumac which added a nice tartness, and piquillo pepper cream. Overall the dish needed a little more seasoning and I would have liked thinner slices of fish.
A really fun playful potato salad dish. The fried smashed potatoes were crispy yet still had a fluffy interior with a drizzle of truffle aioli, tobiko, and bonito flakes on top.
These gulf shrimp were tender and perfectly cooked. The okra pieces were fried so it didn’t have the natural sliminess texture that some people might not care for. I loved the addition of charred onion petals and the paprika oil.
This was my least favorite dish of the night. While the beef was cooked decently, tender and medium rare to medium, it lacked seasoning. I didn’t get that rich intense flavor that I wanted from the ginger tare and black garlic.
The ramens here were actually fuckin’ delicious which kind of caught me off guard. The tonkotsu broth was sooo creamy and flavorful, the noodles were nicely cooked with just the slightest chew, and the pork chashu melted in my mouth.
The vegetable ramen had a shoyu broth with spinach ramen noodles which I had never had before. While this was lighter than the previous ramen, it was still comforting and scrumptious.
While I loved the flavor of this dessert, it was anything but a panna cotta. The mixture was way too thick and dense and lacked that silky giggly texture that a panna cotta should have.
Overall I was pretty satisfied with my meal at Shinmai. I especially loved both the ramens and would definitely go back if I’m ever in the mood for noodle soup. However I did notice that all the surrounding tables received a complimentary snack and we were unfortunately the only table that didn’t receive it. Service was friendly but a little slow which can sometimes be expected at a new restaurant. Therefore my rating is a 7.5-8/10.