Would you eat at a Shu Shop? Birminghamians probably know the Red Pearl as where you go if you want an authentic Chinese experience. What about Japanese food? Birmingham hasn’t had any really authentic Japanese restaurants. But yesterday I attended a soft-launch of Shu Shop with some friends (one of whom lived in Japan for years during college), and the verdict has arrived.
Location, location, location!
Shu Shop set up basically next door to Revelator across from the McWane Center and Alabama Theatre – and the same block as the Lyric. This might be the best thing to happen in that block, too – the restaurant plans to serve until midnight. That leaves plenty of time for theatre-goers to grab something to eat next door!
Shu Shop’s ramen, aside from two tiny details (honestly, probably improvements) holds true to Japanese ramen. Really, really true. And it’s delicious. The menu follows the KISS principle: Shu Shop doesn’t cook anything that they aren’t totally confident in, and that means the menu reads as follows: vegetarian, pescetarian, and almost-traditional Shoyu ramen.
I say almost traditional because of two changes. I consider one an improvement and the other I consider almost a necessity. The first change, the straight-up improvement, is smoking the pork rather than boiling it. The smokiness really added to the flavor. Next was the egg: rather than soft-boiling it, Shu Shop hard boils their egg. I am assured by my totally-not-a-weeaboo friend that this is a nod to American culinary tastes. Totally-not-weeaboo also asserted that Shu Shop doesn’t hand-make their own noodles, but that the noodles they use are as good as noodles get. I thought that was kind of a petty status-symbol complaint: if something is super high quality, who cares if it’s handmade? Others might disagree.
So should you go? Absolutely, if you want ramen. The ramen and sake are the stars here, though there are small plates available. This especially goes if you want to photograph your food – lighting is dim in order to hide people slurping and highlight their Edison lamps. Their bar might, but the dinner menu won’t. So when should you visit? Shu Shop opens tonight at 5PM! Expect seating to be a challenge: despite a surprisingly efficient use of their space to maximize seats, we had trouble finding someplace to sit! That’s true of almost every restaurant launch, though.
“We can’t wait to open our doors to everyone this weekend.” – Shu Shop over Facebook, before I realized I had an early “in”
On a sidenote, shoutout to whoever let us out of the Pizitz garage for free, you’re awesome!
Shu Shop can be found at 1820 3RD Avenue N. No reservations.