Respond to Review of Shojin - Culver City
Review: I had read on happycow about this place opening up a couple ago and finally had a chance to come by for a meal, April 2013. Here's my Shojin Culver City review. It's in a discreet location near the corner of Centinela on a busy driving boulevard with no walking traffic. My friend and I pulled up and parked right in front. Inside is small and dimly light; there is an additional seating area in the very back that was closed-off the day we went. On each table was a candle light. The servers are all pretty Japanese woman dressed in black outfits. They greeted us, brought water, and each a complimentary little appetizer of scallion slices marinated in miso. Our neighboring table received burdock slices. I've eaten at the original Shojin in LA little Tokyo on several occasions and have always enjoyed my meals there. The menu here is presented differently (single paper double-side lists and without any photo image). Our waitress informed us the 3 or so dishes only offered at this location. One of them was the Shojin fried "egg" rolls. Of course, there's no egg. Everything here is vegan. Inside was mashed potatoes and carrots with little strings of mushroom all wrapped up and fried, served over a bed of fresh baby greens, accompanied by a Japanese style dipping sauce (soyu, finely shredded daikon). Tasty. $10. However, I did not like the spicy kelp salad with tempeh bits ("evolution"). The kelp had a nice crunch and the steamed kale was fresh. But overall the tempeh bits were sauced and salted too much for my personal liking. $12. The seitan appetizer with ponzu sauce was a simple dish of seitan slices with a dipping sauce. Was okay. $9. The stand-out dish for me was the "purple treasure" sushi rolls--it was delicious and beautifully presented. Avocado and fried tempeh rolled in brown rice, each roll topped with a piece of fried eggplant and garnished with super thin slices of chili. Looked great and tasted good. My only complaint was the salty sauce that was pour over the entire dish. Next time I would request for the kitchen to leave the sauce on the side. $14. The emphasis at Shojin is service, presentation, and taste. The first two were superb. The last, for me, was mostly all right. This a fine dining kind of restaurant, so the servings are on the small side. You have to order a few things to fill up, so it could get a bit pricey. It's more of a treat- yourself-to-a-special-occasion meal kind of place than an everyday eat-out.