Not many people know about Shin Ju. It doesn’t come up on the “best of Vancouver” websites, or on sushi recommendations, or what have you. To this day, I have no idea why, because besides Kadoya, this is easily my favorite Japanese restaurant in all of Vancouver. It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and it has both timeless classics and a few unusual items on the menu. Better still, they do both take-out and super-fast delivery… as I know after ordering from them for three years! And if that weren’t enough, they offer excellent all you can eat! If I accomplish nothing else with this blog, getting more love for Shin Ju would be enough.
And now for something completely different! I have actually done a “proper” food review for Shin Ju as part of a course on food and travel writing. For those that are looking for a more indepth look at some of the meals there, check it out here. For those that want a shorter summary, read on!
About the restaurant: Shin Ju is a modest and unassuming restaurant on Broadway St., not unlike countless other establishments in the area. It’s a decent size, and there’s usually no wait for a table. One wall is dominated by large windows and it’s well lit, but the décor is… well, it’s all right, but it’s a bit of a mishmash of Japanese knickknacks like sake bottles and Hokusai prints. They have one flatscreen TV but it’s only viewable in the front area; diners in the back alcove will not be able to watch the Olympics here.
The staff is quite friendly, and more importantly, very fast. Usually items are served to you before you can blink. While they do have their hiccups – I’ve been left waiting a few times, and getting a refill on your water can be hard – they are exceptionally good for the most part. That goes double for their delivery. While they usually say it will take 45 minutes to deliver the food, they usually show up after 20, if that. Of course, this might be because I’m a very regular customer…
The food: At first glance, people might pass over Shin Ju as being like any other sushi restaurant in the city. They are missing something really great, however, as Shin Ju wins major points for both excellent food and unusual dishes.
Shin Ju offers plenty of the regular items you would expect in a Japanese restaurant: California rolls, beef teriyaki rice bowls, ramen and so on. However, if you check out the appetizer section, you’ll find some great authentic dishes not normally found in many Vancouver restaurants. My favorite example is okonomiyaki. A sort of weird cross between a pancake and a pizza, okonomiyaki consists of a flatcake fried with a mix of cabbage and seafood topped with fish flakes, mayonnaise and a sweet sauce. Takoyaki is another good example: small chunks of octopus deep fried in moist balls of batter, like a dumpling. I’ve always loved okonomiyaki and takoyaki but despaired of finding places in Vancouver that served them; Shin Ju has therefore remained on my top list of places to go.
Having said that, everything on the menu is excellent. The ingredients are fresh, and everything comes straight to the table still warm from the fryer or grill (the yam tempura roll is particularly good, the cool rice a great juxtaposition to the warm golden yam).
Special note should go to Shin Ju’s all you can eat menu. Recently revamped to broaden the selection, customers can choose from a wide variety of sushi, gyoza, robata and grilled items as well as ramen, yakisoba and so on. Between the fast service, the good quality, the assortment and the price, this is an excellent way to save money, try lots of different things and walk out with a very full stomach.
My favourites: Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, #7 take out special, ebi gyoza, yam tempura roll, beef teriyaki don, tuna sashimi, most of the all-you-can-eat menu… the list goes on.
Cost: Very reasonable; it’s comparable to many other midrange sushi restaurants, but the portions and variety make it a better deal overall. All you can eat is $17 in the evenings ($12 during the day), and it’s very easy to eat enough to make it worthwhile. Most of the appetizers are around $3-5, with most sushi rolls coming in around $4. The only really expensive items tend to be the sashimi, with an assorted platter coming in at $18.
Take-out?: Yes. Not only that, but take-out orders get 15% off. Note that their take-out menu is much smaller than their sit-in menu, but you are able to order things from the sit-in menu regardless (e.g. okonomiyaki)
Delivery?: Yes, for orders over $15. Make sure to call ahead during the Olympics to check for road closures.
Location(s): Shin Ju is on the corner of Broadway and Hemlock, near the major transit hub of Granville and Broadway. Link to Google Maps.
Website and menu: Here.
Summary: If you are looking for a Japanese restaurant that offers high quality food at a good price, look no further. If you would like great service for take-out and delivery, this is the place to come. Shin Ju remains one of my favorite places to eat in Vancouver.