Shalom Japan is what happens when a pair of chefs from different backgrounds (Japanese and Jewish) meet, fall in love, and start making food instead of babies. And considering Jewish and Japanese people are responsible for some of our favorite food on the planet, we had a feeling this was going to be a good one.
Although Shalom Japan’s name suggests a bit of a novelty shop, this is absolutely a serious restaurant. They’re enjoying themselves a lot, and you can feel it in every aspect of the dining experience. But this is place is no joke. For instance, they’re making cocktails with Manischewitz, which is hilarious, but they balance that with a well -curated wine list, plenty of craft beers, and a hand picked selection of sake and shochu. The same can be said for the food, which always includes a few items that will make you smile when you read the menu, and then you eat those things and your smile turns into to a dropped jaw. We were blown away by how the marriage of these two cuisines resulted in such delicious, bold flavors.
One thing about Shalom Japan that’s for certain is that there’s a lot more Japan than Shalom. The menu may start out with challah bread and end with a lox bowl, but everything else leans to the Japanese side, and that seems to work out just fine. Nearly everything we had here was excellent, and we ate a lot. Shalom Japan also offers a tasting for $65, which is a pretty good deal considering you get to sample the entire menu. Move in that direction if you’re looking to have the full experience in one sitting. Speaking of the menu, it changes daily, so it’s possible that much of what we list below won’t be available when you visit.
Sake Kasu Challah with Raisin Butter
Best. Challah. Ever. Forget monkey bread, restaurants should just start serving up this stuff at the start of every meal. Especially a shiny braid that’s been treated with some sake, which is exactly what you’ll find here.
Scallop Sashimi, Radish Vinaigrette, Meyer Lemon
Thinly sliced raw scallop in a red radish vinaigrette that had the look and consistency of Sririacha sauce, but without the kick. A solid appetizer that we loved, but what came next was even better.
Tuna Tataki, Black Tahini
This black tahini (sesame seed paste) was fcking magical, and the tuna that it was applied to is the luckiest tuna on the planet. This incredible thing is a must order.
Aburaage Pouches, Raclette, Green Tomato Relish
Light, crispy, fried tofu pouches with some tasty green relish on top. There’s lots of flavor here, and despite being fried, the dish is far from heavy.
Panko-Caraway Lamb Ribs
I’m not sure if these lamb ribs are Japanese inspired or Jewish in nature, but damn are they delicious. The moist, tender meat fell right off the bone.
Udon, Berkshire Pork, Beet Horseradish, Spinach, Root Chips
The Shalom in this dish comes courtesy of some beet horseradish, often found in gefilte fish. Thankfully, this udon tastes far better than fake Hebrew fish. Thick noodles and thin slices of soft pork swim in a subtle broth, with spinach and a bunch of crunchy potato chip type things for good texture measure. Home run.
Miso-Marinated Tile Fish, Beans, Dashi, Kale Tempura
A fine fish dish in its simplest form, but one that didn’t necessarily benefit from all of its bells and whistles. The idea of kale tempura is good, but in real life not so much. Let’s just say things got soggy.
Lox Bowl, Rice, Daikon, Avocado, Ikura
A big bowl of rice topped with smoked salmon. Russ and his Daughters would be proud.
Waygu Beef Hot Pot for Two
A hot pot of vegetables, rice, and thinly sliced wagyu beef that comes served with a bowl of dreamy soy/miso/Japan-sauce for optimal taste bud stimulation. At $45, this is certainly an expensive move, but it’s a good dish to close out your entrees on and share amongst the table if you can afford it.
Chocolate Banana Caramel Challah Bread Pudding
Yes, you read that right. Pray they have it when you visit. Baruch Ata bitches.
Sweet red bean paste, plum, and ice cream mochi makes for another excellent dessert.