If you’re new to Japanese dining, some of the menu terms and traditions may be unfamiliar to you. But once you can match the names to the delicious dishes, they’ll become a familiar favorite. Also, Japanese dining customs like pairing the best sake with your meal, or ordering at the hibachi grill, will become second nature.
Shinto prides itself on introducing traditional Japanese dishes while giving each one a contemporary spin. If you’re only familiar with sushi, other elements of the Shinto menu are definitely worth checking out.
- Udon. This noodle soup is made with hefty, satisfying udon noodles, pan-fried in a savory miso sauce and topped with various goodies. At Shinto, a perennial favorite is yaki udon, made with meaty shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and other colorful veggies.
- Unagi. “Unagi” is Japanese for “freshwater eel.” Along with unagi sushi rolls, Shinto offers a large unagi rice bowl, which uses the barbecue approach to take the popular eel dish to new heights, adding sesame seeds on top and serving the eel on a bed of vinegar rice.
- Sake. Sake wine is created from fermented rice, with varieties ranging from sweet to savory. Like French and California grape wines, Japanese sake selections often have flavor notes that encompass fruits, herbs and even flowers. Sake and sushi are a classic pairing, and your server can recommend a sake variety based on the type of sushi you’re ordering.
The “etiquette” of sitting at the hibachi tables is something diners needlessly worry about before their first visit to a Japanese restaurant. At Shinto, patrons are included in the fun — which is the whole point of the true hibachi experience.
The first hibachi tradition to understand is that, unless your party is a large one, you will often be sharing the hibachi table with other diners, rather than having your own private chef. A typical hibachi set-up leaves seating on three sides (with the fourth reserved for the chef to enter and exit.) Be prepared to order at the same time as the other parties at the table, not just with your own group. It’s also fun to interact a bit with the other patrons; your chef’s non-culinary skills include encouraging this social spirit.
Also, be sure to make reservations to ensure that you’ll have spaces at one of the hibachi tables. And if you’re worried about the tipping process for the individual chef, relax — the gratuity you leave when paying the bill is split between the chef and the waitstaff.
Ready to see what’s magical about Japanese dining for yourself? Check out our menus for our unique takes on sushi dinners, rice bowls and other delicacies. And stop by on Sundays, for our special family-style hibachi special.