Review: Shio Japanese Restaurant

In the wide world of Maki, Hand Rolls, and Sashimi it is easy to get lost in beautiful plating, crazy sauces and combinations, and Scorpion Bowls. When my cravings ping for sushi my favorite restaurant to visit is Shio in Portsmouth. When Shio first opened several years ago it was a hidden gem tucked away inside a strip mall near Water Country. The plaza has since evolved and so has the Seacoasts’ love for Shio. A couple years ago, Shio expanded next door and opened Shio Yakatori. Shio Yakitori is modeled after the popular after-work Yakatori bars in Japan where diners visit for small plates and drinks to socialize before returning home for the evening.

I recently visited Shio on a Wednesday evening. I was surprised to see that the restaurant and parking lot were completely packed. We did not wait for long and were sat at a two-top in the center of the dining room.

Not only is the food fantastic at Shio, but the service is impeccable. The staff truly seems to enjoy their job and it is so refreshing to see the owner and his wife on premise, working to assure customer service and a smooth kitchen flow. I have written a lot in the past about restaurant service and I am slightly biased coming from a restaurant background. They did a great job at Shio. They know what they are doing, they know how to turn tables, and they remember what you need.

We ordered two Yakatori Bar items; Tontoro and Bonchiri. Tontoro is Berkshire Pig Jowl on a skewer with salt and pepper. The Tontoro is like tender pork belly with just the right amount of fat and enough salt to make you want to eat this rich meat-on-a-stick over and over again. Unfortunately, they were out of Bonchiri; grilled chicken tail with salt and pepper and five spice. Instead, we ordered Momo; chicken thigh on a skewer, both juicy and tender. The Yakatori was served on beautiful plates and arrived shortly after we ordered. Our server was very apologetic about not having the Bonchiri, explaining that they are not used to their customers ordering exotic Yakatori dishes mid-week and wanted to make sure they only served the highest quality ingredients.used the highest quality ingredients in their peak.

We also ordered the Tonkotsu (pork broth) Ramen with a soy marinated egg and the most tender, fatty pork. The ramen was smooth and I asked for it spicy which they ended up adding to the broth. This was OK, however, I would have prefered it on the side so I could taste the broth. The ramen was great and the soy marinated egg was velvety and rich. From the Shio Sushi menu we ordered the Sushi Sashimi combination meal. The fish was fresh, perfectly portioned and wonderfully tasty. The combo also came with a California roll -something I usually shy away from. Texturally the roll was fantastic, smooth avocado, crispy cucumber, and sweet crab an unusually good California Roll.

Our sushi/sashimi and ramen came separately from one another to much apologizing from staff, but we were fine with this, and it allowed us to focus and discuss one dish at a time. Our meal was still fast, we were not overly full, and we were able to thoroughly enjoy each course.

Shio is a delight for their traditional menu; I adore their Yakitori and would love to someday visit g with a large group and order everything on the menu. The prices are also great with most Yakitori running at $3 for 2 pieces, and the ramen costing $9.95. Shio is a wonderful atmosphere with a fantastic staff. Shio is also a great  restaurant to bring any out of town guests for an intimate, affordable, world class experience away from the parking troubles of downtown. Shio is not only one of my favorite restaurants on the Seacoast, but also one of the Seacoasts’ best restaurants for service. Can’t wait for my next trip!

Shio is located at: 2454 Layfette Road in the Southgate Plaza in Porstmouth NH. They close between 3:00-4:30 mid day and are regularly open: Wednesday-Monday 11:30am-10pm. (Closed on Tuesdays). For more information:

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