Shinji Kurita, chef-owner of ShinBay, has never been one for the limelight. But considering his fanatical devotion to pristine ingredients and the Japanese sushi aesthetic, he's bound to garner some national press, solicited or otherwise.
In its July issue, Wine Spectator features a glowing mini review of ShinBay in the magazine's Things We Like section, titled "A Sushi Oasis in the Desert."
Also just published: Details Magazine online features ShinBay in an article on "The 20 Best New Asian Dishes in America," spotlighting an "ever-changing sashimi plate with six little masterpieces." Kurita calls the dish "Tsukuri Six (seafood bites)."
Here's what Wine Spectator's writer Harvey Steiman has to say about ShinBay:
Japanese restaurants in the U.S. rarely reach the heights of ShinBay . . . Fewer still offer the kinds of intelligently selected wines and sakes that lift the experience into another realm.
Steiman goes on to describe, in glowing terms, his $125 meal there, which he terms "a symphony of eight courses of spectacularly flavorful and texture-perfect fish."
On a recent visit to ShinBay, I had many of the same incredible dishes Steiman highlighted in the magazine, and interestingly enough, many of his favorites were also mine, including:
1. An unctuous carpaccio of grouper (Steiman had halibut), seared with sizzling grapeseed oil and drizzled with ponzu
2. A bluefin tuna tartare, chunky with pine nuts and avocado, brightened with fresh wasabi and garnished with house-made cracker and crispy lotus root
3. A briny Kumamoto oyster (Steiman had kusshi) and sweet, nutty-tasting uni, served in the same shell with a dab of ponzu geleé
4. A Madagascar prawn the size of a small lobster, whose ultra-sweet meat had been marinated in soy and sake, deep-fried with egg white batter, moistened with black bean sauce and oyster sauce and spooned back into the shell
5. New Caledonia blue shrimp with shrimp reduction, Osetra caviar and fried shrimp head (this one is another of my faves; Steiman didn't mention it)
And for dessert:
Silky chawanmushi (often a savory custard in Japan, but sweet here), topped with a medley of fruit and Okinawan black cane sugar syrup
Exquisite food and perfectly paired sake in an elegantly understated room that captures the spirit of modern Japan -- and we have it all right here in Scottsdale, Arizona.
If you have $125 to $150 (plus tax and tip) to spare, don't wait another second. Get yourself to ShinBay.
But do call ahead. Kurita takes only a few reservations per night.
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You can find Wine Spectator at bookstores and most grocery stores.