Since I tried a Korean owned and operated Sushi restaurant in Santa Fe, I had to visit the one that is Japanese owned and operated. It didn’t have much of any signage on the outside, so it was not easy to spot this place. You have to be facing the door to see the modest pink sign above the door.
At the entrance, there is a hostess section that didn’t look like much…it looked more like some sort of work station at an office. Certainly not screaming out “the beautiful face of the restaurant” in any way.
Their bathroom is right behind the hostess section, with cute signs on the door. The woman sign has a red lip, and the man sign has a mustache.
To the left of the hostess station is the restaurant. There is a long sushi counter and small table seating. I heard from a local that the owner, Shohko is letting her daughter to run the restaurant nowadays, even though Shohko still is the owner and she manages the place.
The hostess, who I assumed was the daughter of the owner, took me to a dining room at the back. Here, they have tables that are bigger than the ones they have at front by the sushi counter. When I arrived, the restaurant was nearly empty, as it had just opened for the day. But, more customers kept coming in one after another. It seemed like a popular spot among the locals. The windows in this room were all sort of covered, so it was a bit dim. Maybe they get too much sun without it?
Here, I also ordered nigiri and maki sushi, a good way to compare between two sushi places. I ordered Salmon ($9/2pcs), Ikura ($8/2pcs), Tokyo Roll ($18) and Santa Fe Roll ($8). The price point is higher here than Izmi, and I was surprise how Ikura (salmon roe) was cheaper than the actual salmon, as Ikura is usually a bit more expensive than salmon.
Speaking of ikura, it was good, but smaller portion than Izmi. I got more ikura at Izmi than I got here at Shohko. The quality was high, and I liked how they put the slice of lemon in between, so that the seaweed don’t stick to each other, and it also gave a hint of lemony fresh flavor.
The salmon sushi was very nice and fresh, thick slice of salmon with small amount of sushi rice. The portion size was good. But I wonder the reason why their salmon is so pricey? It is almost twice as expensive than that of Izmi. One option they have extra is that they also offer wild salmon nigiri, which you can get at whopping $12/2 pcs.
Tokyo roll is made with Yellowtail & Scallion, topped with Tuna, Avocado and Pickled Daikon. At $18, I was expecting something that was really, really good. It was again fresh and good quality, but it was not amazing. It had a nice amount of yellowtail in it, and the pickled daikon was certainly interesting. But, I still don’t think it was worth the price point.
Santa Fe Roll is made with Green Chile Tempura, Shrimp Tempura and Avocado. Even thought it is fatter than the Tokyo roll, not too fat to the point it made it difficult to eat. For that reason, this was one easier to eat than Izmi’s “New Mexico” roll. This one had a little kick to it, which I liked. I thought the price point for this roll was really good, nice quality roll for $8 is a steal.
After the meal, I wanted some hot tea, so I flagged down one of the staffs to order a tea. They had two female staffs working here on this day, one was much friendlier than the other. Neither one of them came to check on me the entire time I was eating… Needless to say, my water was never refilled until they came to clean up the plates. When the friendly one brought me the tea, I asked for their dessert menu. The Green Tea ($2) came in a super heavy stone pot. The tea was really strong.
While I was deciding on what to order for dessert, the other waitress brought my check to my table. I guess she was more eager for me to leave than to see if I wanted/needed anything else, like say, dessert? She realized I was looking at the dessert menu, and she took back the check. Anther few moments later, I flagged down the waitress again to order the dessert. I chose Japanese Azuki Bean Tea Cake ($7). It came with azuki bean ice cream.
I was curious to see what kind of “cake” it would be, but it was actually a Dorayaki which is an old fashion Japanese snack. It is basically two small pancake sandwiching sweet azuki bean paste in the middle. I assume it was store-bought. It is rather a cheap treat for kids and adults alike, and even with the large scoop of ice cream, $7 price tag felt like an overprice for this item. The ice cream was sitting on top of an orange slice. The subtle citrus flavor was nice with the ice cream.
Interesting thing about this restaurant is that they also had “Cell Phone Free” policy, as Izmi. I wonder if they have history of customers talking extremely loud in the restaurants in Santa Fe??? But even more crazy, Shohko also had “Scent Free Zone” with the no-cell phone policy. It said “do not wear perfume, cologne, aftershave and other fragrances”…I have never hard of such thing! I hope their customers knows this beforehand so that they don’t have to worry about it when they get there. Again, I wonder if they have history of customers going nuts over colognes and whatnot. It is annoying to be close to someone who smell like she/he poured the entire bottle of cologne. BUT, even then it is an interesting policy…
Overall, it was a good lunch, high quality but pricey. Service was very slow, making my lunch to be dragged out a bit. One of the waitresses was really nice, and the other one was polite but not very friendly. It was not as good of an experience as I wanted it to be, but I am glad I got to visit this spot to compare with the other restaurant. It is good to know that there are nice Sushi spots in Santa Fe.
Shohko Cafe – 321 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501