I arrived in Santa Barbara on a business trip and couldn’t wait to check out the food scene. I got a few suggestions from local coworkers and created an itinerary of must-sees and must eats. Check back for updates!
Shintory Sushi Factory
After reading rave reviews online, I decided to stop into Shintori Sushi Factory on State Street. It isn’t in the downtown portion of State Street but it’s easily accessible if you’re headed that way.
Atmosphere: Shintori is easy to miss. The small read awning and red sign blend in with the surrounding signage. Once found, the entrance and interior are both unassuming and underwhelming. It’s a small restaurant with about 7 tables and a bar. Nondescript images are easy to ignore. One TV flashes silent pictures at guests while the sushi chefs rock out to reggaeton.
The menu has a lot of common favorites as well as a few local specialties. As my litmus test, I got a rainbow roll and their version of a Beauty and the Beast (BBQ eel and tuna over a California roll). The rolls are smaller than what I’m accustomed to at my favorite hangouts in Atlanta but they were still filling. The fish was good. Not stellar but it was just fine.
The sauce on the eel was HORRID to my taste buds. I’ve gotten BBQ eel multiple times and at least two dozen restaurants and I’ve never had sauce like this. It’s as if the standard sauce was sprinkled with cigarette ashes! Perhaps it was sprinkled with ashes. I hadn’t offended anyone that I was aware of…Bitter sauce on eel is just a bad idea. I scraped the BBQ sauce off of the roll and doused it in soy sauce to try and fend off the flavor.
There were a few cute odds and ends. Each meal comes with a edamame appetizer, and many rolls are served with veggies on the side like peas, carrots, and grape tomatoes. Gotta get in your veggies! The two waitresses that assisted me were very kind.
Overall Restaurant Rating: 5/10 for decent, filling food that simply didn’t wow me.
Image Credit: Asian Food Grocer