It’s always a difficult review to write when my opinion of the service and food vary so drastically. So, I’ll try to break this down into little honest thoughts:
Shibumi Izakaya is one of Capitol Hill’s newest restaurant additions, and one of very few Izakaya’s in the area. Their website, in a way, sets the tone for my visit; when a restaurant tells you it’s a “warm and inviting atmosphere,” yet the details of its location are simplified to just “on Capitol Hill between 12TH & 13TH,” there’s a disconnect there (camera pans to me aimlessly wandering the streets between 12Th and 13Th ave. for days.. “am I there yet?”). The restaurant doesn’t look particularly inviting, it’s artful, chic and modern. The staff are friendly, but the attitude among servers is inconsistent. Our server was pretentious, but every one else I interacted with was sweet, hospitable and “normal.” At a neighboring table there was a family with two kids slurping noodles playfully and another of unassuming university students with considerate, but confused looks on their faces as our server brought them “still,” but bottled water to start (each bottle was listed at $4 on the menu). People set the mood, we are the ambiance, and I can safely say that the atmosphere did not match the highbrow service that night.
The other half of my experience, the food, was great. Although the price is on the “$$$” side, each dish was fresh, authentic and delicious. My taste palate is simple, lenient and I’m easy to please (I make do at some pretty cheap joints around the International District), but I can still recognize good quality and appreciate delicious food. For good reason, Shibumi is known for their ramen. The Tonkatsu broth was extremely rich, thick and deep with flavor. I suspect it would have turned to gelatin if I didn’t slurp it up as quickly as I did. The flavor was on point, but some may consider it on the salty side. And like all decent-to-good ramen, the noodles were cooked perfectly. For $15, I know I will return for another bowl, but I think I could survive if it’s not for a while.
“TONKOTSU RAMEN 豚骨ラーメン Pork soup, kurobuta belly, bamboo shoots, scallions”
“MARINATED BLACK COD 銀ダラの粕漬け”
“SPICY PORK GYOZA スパイシー餃子”
“AGEDASHI TOFU 揚げ出し豆腐”