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A SHIN-ING EXAMPLE
Urbane sushi house reflects commitment to sourcing, flair for artistry

Shin Sushi strikes a graceful posture on these not-so-mean streets, though the same couldn’t be said about my dining partner and me. We had our fingers tip-deep into the flow of the mesmerizing glass waterwall near the entrance of the restaurant when a bemused maitre d’ caught us wet-handed.

As we sheepishly followed her to our tatami table, inhaling the new furniture smell and admiring the modern art, one feature seemed slightly off – the lighting. Most of the luminescence filtered through the floor-to-ceiling windows from streetlamps outside, not the stylish fixtures dangling from the high ceiling. The glare cast sharp shadows on tables and polluted the air of elegance, so if I may offer a suggestion: blinds, drapes or shades would not only minimize squinting, but significantly enhance the atmosphere. No matter, we put our blinders on and perused the menu while enjoying a refreshing sakizuke (a Japanese amuse-bouche) of cool shrimp, seaweed and cucumber dressed in a vinegary miso sauce, and a tastebud-tickling salad served in a glass tumbler.

Our gracious and well-informed waitress recommended the couples combination ($49) comprising 12 pieces of nigiri and 16 pieces of sashimi of the chef’s choosing, along with a spider roll and a spicy tuna roll, all served on a driftwood-like slab. There’s plenty here for two, and the selection reflects the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing and the chefs’ flair for artistry, without belying tradition. Of note: ultra-fresh and fatty flounder sashimi served in an oyster shell; intense silver-skinned mackerel nigiri; lubricious, gleaming white escolar; the rich sweet essence of unagi; the sticky rice and tempura flakes of spicy tuna rolls; and the panko-fried crab in the spider roll. Even eggy tamago was deftly executed. Conversely, shaved onions interfered with the taste of the salmon nigiri; the whelk, while shaped like an orchid, felt like a rubber plant; and octopus nigiri proved too tough (and too intelligent, as my dining companion remarked) to eat. Still, the dish as a whole is a rewarding sampling of what’s offered, and ideal for those who enjoy their sushi relatively unadulterated, though a number of signature and maki rolls are also offered.

Starters were equally rewarding, and I couldn’t get enough of wonderfully flavorful tataki beef ($8). Thin slices of marbled raw beef circularly arranged atop cucumber shavings came garnished with raw garlic, minced ginger and shaved onions. Tart ponzu had us blissfully double-dipping and fighting for the last slice of beef. Cucumber-seaweed salad ($5), though conservatively portioned, was big on freshness, with julienned cucumber intermingling with softened wakame seaweed; a rice vinegar dressing provided an astringent finish. Edamame ($4) were perfectly steamed and salted, but that didn’t stop me from repeatedly squeezing the ears of the rabbit-shaped sea salt grinder.

The batter of the banana tempura was just right (not too crispy, not too soggy) and, along with two scoops of red bean ice cream, made a winner of the tropical sundae ($7). Fried ice cream ($6) failed texturally, as the tempura shells were ultimately reduced to mush.

It’s somewhat of a surprise that Shin hasn’t quite been “discovered” yet, especially given its proximity to trendy Citrus next door. Sure, there’s been some tinkering with the menu and décor over the past three months, but if you ask me, I think it’s entirely plausible that patrons walking past have been blinded by the light.

dining@orlandoweekly.com
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