Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata Yakitori (Fountain Valley, CA)

18315 Brookhurst St., #1
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Shin Sen Gumi opens for its yakitori dinner at 6:00pm, but when we came at 5:45pm, we were #8 on the waiting list. This place is known for its skewers of meat and vegetables roasted over Kishu bincho-tan (Japanese White Charcoal Wood)

You won't find peace and quiet at this Japanese restaurant. Instead, you'll find a place filled with dynamic energy and constant, simultaneous belting of "Welcome!" or "Cheers!" or "Thank you!" Before the hostess leads a dinner party inside the restaurant, she pauses at the doorway and belts out in Japanese "Welcome!" and the rest of the waitstaff and cooks simultaneously yell out a welcoming greeting. When customers buy large pints of beer for the chefs, they again heartily shout "Cheers!!" and toast each other. When the guests leaves, they altogether say "Thank you!" and politely bow to the departing dinner party.

If you look to the bottom right corner of this picture, that's a huge pitcher of beer that the customers bought for the cooks to toast together. I was kind of glad that we got in when the restaurant opened because what if we come much later and they're already drunk?
Condiment Tray - The round container in the middle of the picture contains yuzu kosho, which is a spicy Japanese sauce made from green yuzu zest, mixed with salt and green chile peppers. Yuzu is a Chinese lemon, resembling a grapefruit and tastes like Mandarin oranges. It had a spicy, bitter taste at first, but then had a salty finish.

The faithful cook rotates the skewers to perfection. When he sprinkles on the seasoning, he does it in a way with his wrist that is artful and graceful. It was very interesting to watch.
On the left is Sasami Umejiso - Chicken breast with plum paste and shiso leaves (2.35). We thought this one was okay, not as tasty as the other skewers (probably because we enjoyed the fat from the pork belly)

On the right is the Shiso Maki - Shiso leaves wrapped in pork belly (2.50). Another tasty combination. The Shiso leaf adds a nice added flavor to the pork belly.
Asupara Maki - Asparagus wrapped in pork belly (2.50). The asparagus and the pork belly was a great combination. The asparagus was perfectly cooked with the crisp pork belly, with a slight oozing of fat. Another favorite of the night.

To the right is the Uzura Be-kon - Quail egg wrapped in bacon (2.75). This was also delicious. What doesn't taste good wrapped with bacon? Steaks, hot dogs, and quail eggs is no exception. I actually enjoyed the bacon over pork belly.
Flap meat (2.35). I don't know what part of the cow is the "flap," but whatever it was it was good. Looking it up on the internet, I found out it that this cut of meat is the same one the use in fajitas.Grilled Rice Balls (2.00). The rice balls were grilled also over the binchotan. It had a crispness on the outside with the delicious grilled flavor. At Shin Sen Gumi they don't offer you any rice to eat with all of that meat you are eating. To satisfy our rice craving we ordered a rice ball.This is the Negima Tare - Chicken thigh with green onions and house sauce (1.95). A classic here and was very tasty. This was probably one of my favorites of the night. What's not to like about some chicken thigh, grilled onions, and some nice house sauce.
This is the Tsukune - Chicken meatball (2.00). This was also very flavorful and delicious. One of my other favorites of the night. Who knew meatballs would be so tasty? The meat itself is very juicy and moist. They lather on a sauce on top of the meatballs, making it extra flavorful.
Here is the Pork Belly (1.75). Fatty but melts in the mouth. The pork belly was simply seasoned with just salt and expertly grilled with a nice char on it. Good stuff!
We enjoyed pretty much every dish that we ordered and really liked the atmosphere and the vibe of the place. Very laid back Japanese atmosphere and attentive service. The bill at Shin Sen Gumi can add up quickly if you aren't watching what you are ordering. We will definitely be back.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Wow, very thorough writing! This is the first blog I've read and I'm already an instant fan! Not only do you have pictures, you have have detailed captions, explanations, and food history!

Three cheers: