It seems like a small strip-mall restaurant hiding just off the central culinary drag that is Spring Mountain Road, but Shobu is actually roomy and comfortable in a comprehensive way. Something for everyone is a cliché, but this place is a sushi joint, a sake house, a karaoke bar and a spot for Japanese small plates, so, to continue with clichés, the shoe fits.
The décor at this months-old restaurant feels familiar—mismatched dark wood tables and large booths in quiet nooks built for friends to feast before moving into one of several karaoke rooms, which are wisely placed on the other side of the sushi bar. All the obligatory beers are here, from Kirin Ichiban to Asahi Black, plus wine, hot or cold sake, shochu, a few unique cocktails (many with cassis liqueur) and a bunch of chu-hi drinks, shochu mixed with soda and juice. The food menu is extensive and kicks off with standards like edamame, oshinko (assorted pickles) and kimchi. For a sweet-hot treat, go to town on octopus marinated in wasabi and rice wine ($5.50), a great pre-sushi palate cleanser.
This is a place to order up a storm and share everything, including the flavor-packed salmon skin salad ($7.95), crispy strips of fish on leafy greens with gobo root and takuwon (more pickles). Upgrade from the usual jalapeño yellowtail with yuzu chili salmon ($8.95). There are more appetizers: deep fried gyoza ($4.95), tofu in dashi ($5.95), Korean-style beef skewers ($5.95) and chicken gizzards sautéed with garlic ($6.95).
Shobu does teppan, too, and just the way we want it—in smaller portions. Asparagus is flash-grilled with chunks of bacon ($6.95) or wrapped in thinly sliced ribeye ($6.95). If you’re feeling funky, there’s beef tongue in sesame oil ($10.95). If you’re looking for something everyone will like, try ginger chicken with egg ($8.95) and finish with a couple more bites of nigiri or a roll like the 777, a spicy swirl of shrimp, scallop, albacore, avocado and sriracha.
There’s even more to sample, udon noodles or curry rice or tempura, but you’re probably full and thinking about karaoke. Next time.
Shobu 3650 S. Decatur Blvd. #31, 453-3377. Daily, 6 p.m.-midnight.