Shimo’s $7.95 Noodle Bar

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Serving up authentic bowls of ramen and soba suspended in pools of earthy shoyu, miso and ginger shiso dashi broth, Cyrus Chef Douglas Keane’s new noodle bar at Shimo Modern Steak is a cheap date with all the trimmings of a luxury dinner.

Rather than opening a fourth restaurant to sate his noodle passion (he has ownership stakes in Cyrus, HBG and Shimo), Keane has instead, introduced the steaming earthenware pots on Japanese lacquered trays to his recently-opened steakhouse.

Served only in the bar, it’s a generous DIY meal that starts at a thrifty $7.95 for a bowl of noodles and broth with bean sprouts, onion and nori. Add-ins range from humble roasted garlic and pickled ramps (.75 to $2) to wild mushrooms, a slow-cooked egg, and tofu ($2.50 to $3); pork belly, chicken, shrimp and prime rib ($4-$4.75) all the way up to waygu for $20 per ounce.

Best bets: Ramen miso with wild mushrooms, egg, and pork belly (for heartier fare) or a lighter ginger dashi with tofu, pickled ramps and watercress. Complex fermented, earthy, salty, vegetative and sea flavors can be unusual to American palates more used to more sweet and fruity dishes, but it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone on this one.

Bonus: A complimentary snack of crispy, spicy, salty fried wonton strips and wasabi aioli is gourmet crack that’ll have you jonesing for another fix. Regular menu items from Shiso are also available like the beef-essence biscuits and beef tartare that Mr. Jason refers to as “land sushi”. Plus, a full bar with top tipplers featuring yuzu and ginger, not to mention artisan sakes that will delight fans and sway non-believers.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but my family and friends said, ‘No more restaurants’,” Keane tells BiteClub.

241 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 433.6000

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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9 Comments

  1. I had the ramen bowl at the bar on Saturday night. It was bland. I was surprised as it is kind of difficult to make a flavorless miso. Momofuku has set the bar for noodle bars. Get with it, Shimo.

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  2. Last night, I tried Shimo for the first time and thought ALL the food was excellent. It surpassed all expectations.

    I was wondering why the bar was so crowded as I enjoyed my delicious meal. Though the price is not for everyone, this retaurant is the only place i will be ordering steak in the near future.

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  3. Hey Heather it’s interesting to ready your insider description. I was also there (for my first time) on Saturday night– part of it’s packed-ness I suppose. And yes there were a lot of people out, including the drunk girls who rolled past my window table not once but twice, riding in a shopping cart.

    But I digress. I found the whole Shimo experience a little odd– and this is more a question than a criticism. I couldn’t really tell who the restaurant was for and who it was serving. Yes it has high end products at relatively high prices, but I thought the decor (aside from the lovely tables) was a little low end. And I guess I had also expected a Japanese style place to have a little more Zen minimalism, cool, and restraint… but (as I think you’ll agree) the place was raucous and 4 Bauer Bell-worthy… people in shorts, kids playing with wine corks in their water glasses, etc (apologies if that table was yours). It took away from the experience a little, or maybe my expectations were just wrong? The food was very good but I’m not sure I would return.

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  4. Yes yes yes! Can’t wait to try this ramenbar … we’ve been jonesin for tasty ramen up here … will compare it to the fabulous rich broth, soft-cooked egg and seductive pork belly of the ramenbowl at Hana in RP. Yum!

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  5. Seems like the new Shimo Steak is an ever evolving concept.

    Sourcing beef from all over the place is great bu wheres the Beef from Sonoma? Slanging cheep eats at the bar? Free snacks to keep you coming back… Seems like acts of desperation.

    Maybe they’ll open for breakfast next, with Steak and Eggs with a Korean “kim-chee twist”?

    Perhaps Keen should have listened to his family. Good luck!

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    • Here’s the thing: Doug is pretty contrite about the fact that opening a high-end steakhouse in this economy has been challenging. I don’t think I’m telling tales that the conversation we had involved him saying that it’s been a horrible winter for everyone (yes, I’ve heard from some chefs that its been the worst in 12 years) and that getting the building lease for a good deal had a lot to do with him opening Shimo despite the crap economy.

      To that end, I can tell you that i think he’s being pretty smart about trying to find ways to bring folks in who aren’t going to cough up $100 for a steak — And evolving the menu to keep locals coming back. You can’t support a restaurant on tourists alone. The Sunday prime rib dinner has been a massive success.

      I will also say that the house was PACKED at Shimo on Saturday night at the restaurant, so desperate might be an overstatement. Spoonbar was also a mob scene. So despite a horrible winter, if this weekend was any indication, people are out again.

      Frankly, I think we’re all getting a bit weary of belt-tightening.

      As for sourcing local beef…that has been an ongoing question that i think a lot of folks have had. Doug feels that the beef he’s sourcing is the quality and consistency that he needs for Shimo. i will ask him about that again, though.

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    • Wow, what a negative way to look at it. I looked at it as, YAY, i can’t afford Shimo right now, but maybe I can check it out this way. Oh, and Steak and Eggs with kim-chee sounds great.

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    • Green grocer,

      when was the last time you opened a restaurant? or as i suspect you have not. I see this as being very proactive and opening the doors to all people. Some who do not want a full steak dinner but want to sit in the bar and have a different type of dinner. Why do you concern yourself with what keane is doing it sounds like you need to get a life yourself! I hope they do open for breakfast! I would be there!

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      • I have opened several restaurants.

        I didn’t mean to have a negative tone when commenting. It is just that a peculiarly familiar business plan “evolutionary change” indicates to me that there is financial stress on the high end market that Shimo Modern Steak commands.

        I have eaten at this establishment several times now and I plan to patronize it as part of the new market segment they are targeting with the noodle bar.

        I am just a firm believer in maintaining an identity with a restaurant, customers get confused when you offer too many dining options. And the dining room at Shimo is not so big as to allow for multiple concepts.

        Additionally, I have personally had to make hard decisions when it comes to priorities of business and family life. For me Family life is more valuable than business. I sincerely hope that Keene’s many endeavors are as successful as Cyrus and that the additional restaurants and passion for excellent food do not hinder his obligations to his family.

        My best always.

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