I have mixed feelings about our visit to Shobosho. Putting aside the obvious (who you are dining with) when I go to any restaurant, it is always predominantly for the food. However jovial the experience, the food dictates.
The reason I have mixed feelings, is because generally the food was excellent at Shobosho. I can’t help but feel, through a combination of the table we were seated at, the unusual demeanour of the service, and just a vibe, that there is improvement that can be made.
And one element restaurant design that I’ve never really thought about, is having every table in view of the floor staff, or at least the floor staff having a regular need to be overseeing the tables. On a cold night in Adelaide, the position of our table, outside of the main area of the restaurant, but next to the opening, was not ideal.
In the end, little of this detracts from my personal rating of Shobosho. With some exquisite food, such as nine hour lamb buns, aged wagyu skewers, incredible Japanese custard, and very nice five spice roasted chicken, it is hard to really be critical.
We had plenty of service attention to begin with, but like many catch ups, we spent a lot of time initially chatting rather than reviewing the menu. It’s little wonder why we were left alone, but equally there are very few places that do the restricted time early sitting well. It always feels like there is some sort of hurry to get to ordering, rather than relaxing into the meal to come. Yet for most of the times I’ve done the early sitting at restaurants, we have stayed longer than our allotment, without any consequence for the restaurant or the next set of diners.
As I mentioned, the food was delicious. The shiitake “chawanmushi” Japanese custard dish was one of several recommended by our waitperson, and she was completely correct that this odd sounding dish is beautiful. The Xinjiang style wood roast lamb buns were full of flavour; the blackened crust of the bun adding a great smokiness.
There were dishes like the honey glazed pork steamed baozi that you only expect from a specialist dumpling house. Contrast that with some delightfully plated raw yellowfin tuna, charred edamame, black rice, topped with bonito cream, and you have both rustic and finely presented modern Asian side by side. Though the bonito cream was a touch too much for the softness of the tuna.
With the spit roast Teriyaki chicken to finish, and a satisfying accompanying filler in the shallot bread, we were just too full for dessert. The savouries had done their job, and we had already overstayed our time, eating into the Richmond v Geelong final on at the nearby pubs.
Shobosho was well worth a look. Next time I’ll specifically ask for a table up the top, hoping to get some more consistent attention from the staff, and being away from the door. Some of these dishes would be hard to not order again, which is a big tick for our time here.