Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sho Mi


I must admit, I have been very busy ever since I set up this blog so I haven't been able to find much time to start posting. However, the semester is winding down and I realized that I have a little more time now, yay!

I am a college student attending University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. My hometown is near San Francisco, so I've been spoiled by the rich food culture of the city. As for Stockton...well, there are some pretty good restaurants, but one has to search for them.

A place that I regularly go to with friends is a Japanese place called Sho Mi in the Lincoln Shopping center up Pacific Ave. Now, I am a Japanese major and have grown up going to Japantown in Sf so I have eaten (and cooked) a lot of Japanese food. Sho Mi is perhaps not the most authentic or wonderful Japanese restaurant, but it strives to be. Personally, my friends and I all find that it is one of the best deals around. The menu is rather large and has many different dishes, such as ramen, curry, donburi, and sushi. The portions are rather large, and the prices aren't sky-high. Some of the other Japanese restaurants around, such as Cocoro and Misaki, are good, yet their prices are ridiculously high. At Cocoro for lunch, the tonkatsu meal is $15 and it is not very much food at all! Just a measly scoop of rice, a small salad, and a fried pork cutlet that isn't much larger than a regualr-size chicken breast.

But, I digress. One of the reasons why I was drawn to Sho Mi in the first place was not only my curiousity, but my love for donburi. Donburi could be described as Japanese comfort food. It consists of meat mixed with eggs and onions drizzled with a sweet sauce over rice. The meats vary; there is Oyako-don which is made with chicken, Tanin-don made with thin slices of beef, Katsu-don made with fried pork cutlet, and even the plain omelette is sometimes put on top of rice. Unagi-don is slices of eel on top of rice, yet not accompanied with eggs.
I have made my own Oyako-don many times at home, and it is such a delightfully filling dish. It isn't too heavy, but it's warm and makes you smile. Perfect for a cold winter evening. :)

Sho Mi's donburi is served in a large bowl with lots of rice underneath whatever topping you choose. The meal comes with a little salad and a bowl of miso soup.
I have tried both their Katsu-don and Oyako-don. Spinach is mixed with the eggs and onions, and slivers of pickled ginger and fishcake are scattered in the bowl. The broth, however, leaves much to be desired. It isn't always as tasty as one would like; the sour and sweet flavors of soy sauce and Mirin (rice wine vinegar) should be sticking out, but perhaps Sho Mi makes their broth differently. It is a filling dish that doesn't totally disappoint, but it can be much tastier than it is.

Sho Mi also serves the quintessentially Japanese noodle soup known as ramen, and might be perhaps the only Japanese restaurant in Stockton that offers it. All the other Japanese places I have tried here do not serve ramen, so imagine my excitement at seeing ramen on the menu at Sho Mi, along with donburi. A nice thing about Sho Mi is that they offer half orders of most of the ramen soups, and the half orders are by no means skimpy. The noodles are chewy, and the chashu pork isn't always tough. A hard-boiled egg floats around, surrounded by tendrils of spinach. Corn lies at the bottom of the bowl, and slices of green onion bob up and down in the broth. The shoyu ramen's broth is thick and salty, yet not too heavy.

I have not tried any of the sushi rolls they serve, but I have friends who did. They are large and full of goodies, depending on what kind you order. Also, some are drizzled with sauces, if you like that sort of sushi.

The gyoza are nothing special; you can order them fried or steamed. The fried ones looked greasy and heavy, and the steamed ones are too overdone and sloppy. They taste like frozed gyoza anyone can buy and aren't worth the money.

The tonkatsu meal is huge! My friends usually have trouble finishing it; it comes with rice, a salad, and a huge tonkatsu cutlet split in two. It's a good deal for a lot of food, and it doesn't taste overwhelmingly greasy.

Sho Mi serves out a lot of food, especially for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights (it's not open on Sundays) and is usually very busy. When you step in, you need to get in line to order your meal. Once you order, you can go find a table and lay your receipt on it so the servers can see what drinks you ordered. Credit cards are only accepted if the order's total comes to $20 or more, so make sure you bring cash!

Sho Mi
419 Lincoln Center
Stockton, CA 95207

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
Prices: $$
Tippies: Donburi is pretty good and filling, and the ramen is okay. Don't be afraid to try different things since the menu is large!