Shiromaru is one of those places where the quality of the food is better than the casual experience. Not a complaint! And the opposite is preferable than if the restaurant makes a service show with high prices but the food is so-so. At Shiromaru, if you order at the cash register, you’ll receive a can of sake bomb, so your taste buds will be satisfied.
At 6pm on a Saturday, a medium-length line of patrons of various Asian and non-Asian ethnicities was seen. Apparently they’re happy to forego tablecloths and table service and have top-notch Japanese food at a reasonable price.
The menu includes a long list of sushi, but I concentrated on the soups and rice bowls. Among them, the main character is black tonkotsu. Read about why tonkotsu is so delicious and why it takes so long to make tonkotsu by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt.
Before opening Shiromaru in 2022, owner and ramen chef Jasmeet Singh worked in Japanese restaurants for years after immigrating from northern India 17 years ago. He was fascinated by ramen, saying, “I was surprised by the texture and richness of the soup,” and learned the technique. Pork bones are soaked in water overnight to remove impurities, and then simmered for an even longer period of time to create a creamy soup. Literally not creamy. I think it’s pork fat. Simmering for several hours removes protein from the bones, converts collagen into gelatin, and actually breaks down fat, bone marrow, and calcium into tiny pieces that float in the liquid. “Shiromaru” means “white vessel” and refers to its creamy color and texture.
Singh’s ramen is made from scratch and extruded on Japanese machines. Shin swirls aged black garlic, a bit of wood ear fungus, green onion, half a marinated egg, and best of all, pork belly chashu that has been simmered until it’s soft enough to be pierced with a chopstick. The variety of textures alone – slippery noodles, velvety broth, rubbery mushrooms – is enough to make this dish a star, but the rich flavors outweigh it. Other versions are classic tonkotsu without black garlic and red with chili garlic sauce. I’m sure it will be just as great. His three versions of chicken soup (paitan) are similar but include corn and bamboo. There is also a vegetable soup with grilled tofu. This sounds like a very poor cousin.
If you prefer a less liquid meal, the tonkatsu bowl is chock-full of solids, but I have nothing but praise for the bowl with pork belly chashu and the grilled eel bowl (unagi-don). The chef generously uses tender pork belly, tangy mayonnaise, bright pickled ginger, and sticky eel sauce. In the eel bowl, the eel melts in your mouth, and the barbecue sauce is not too sweet, giving it an exquisite taste. Decorated with ginger shavings and cucumber ribbons.
A small amount of miso soup is served first, with a few pieces of tofu and a bit of crunchy seaweed.
I enjoyed the escolar ponzu appetizer, but I later read that eating a lot of escolar (incorrectly labeled as “white tuna”) can cause diarrhea. . (Sorry about that.) The raw fish was pleasantly spicy on a long bed of cucumber sprinkled with red pepper (capsicum). Escolar also makes an appearance in the sumptuous Shiromaru Deluxe Bowl, which has rice topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, and an extra layer of iceberg. The wasabi dressing has a bit of horseradish flavor, which gives it a pleasant spicy flavor. (I recently learned that most of what we call wasabi, even in Japan, is not actually made from the soft wasabi plant, but rather a mixture of horseradish and mustard oil. Wasabi. )
Shiromaru also offers a slightly lighter udon soup (the ramen contains egg, and the thick udon noodles are vegan). I had the “udon set” with soup and California roll. The thick noodles are very easy to slurp, and the soup contains the misnamed “kanikama” along with shiitake mushrooms and homemade tempura flakes called “crunch.”
Dessert is mochi ice cream. It didn’t taste like mango, but it was close enough for a frozen treat. I preferred the darker matcha mochi.
I bought a 12 oz can of house wine (that’s the brand name). For $9. The clerk brought me a cold wine glass and exclaimed, “Oh, you’ll never be able to use this!” Of course, all the usual brands like sake and Japanese beer are more authentic and go well with food.
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