Rochester is a cold, sultry mistress. She’s got a lot of little dents here and there, but the cold is a large part of her character, really. This is the perfect town for stay-in days and hot cocoa. I mean, c’mon, how many times have you walked around any of the southern U.S. or California towns and been like: “Oh, you know what? I really want some hot cocoa!”
Zero. Zero times. Don’t lie to me, you know I don’t play that shit.
But sometimes hot cocoa is too sweet and gives my stomach sickly-sad times, so I have to find warmth and sanctuary in some other meal. And you know what’s reliable for that? Ramen. Delicious, warm, noodle-and-broth ramen. It’s good in all forms, whether handed in a prepackaged cup or made with actual boiled noodles and a broth that’s been stewing since the bed was made. There’s a few places in Rochester that offer a decent enough ramen bowl, but I like to default to one particular place that I can always count on for a decent meal: Shiki.
Shiki is an adaption of your typical non-NYC Japanese restaurant that you come to for a nice sit-in meal with some friends. It’s a small, two-floor spot on Clinton Avenue that’s a few shops away from Hylan Diner, a Rochester food staple that I might get to someday. On the outside, the place looks like a cozy after-work salaryman’s bar with its brick exterior and small rain-shelter awning above its entrance. You’ll know when you get there by the sight of the simplistic, bold text sign that greets you with the words: “Shiki: Japanese Restaurant.”
Shiki is only open for two time slots a day: lunch and dinner. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday (and only 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday), you can step in and grab some grub. That is, so long as there’s a table available. Shiki, given its modest exterior, is a surprisingly busy kitchen cabin. Be prepared to wait 30 minutes for a seat if you show up to Shiki on a random Friday evening. Luckily, you can reserve a seat early by phone call.
Once you’ve gotten your seat, you can peep at the cutesy menu the Shiki family gives you and get a feel for what you’d like. Whether it’s edamame, takoyaki balls, sweet curry, teriyaki-glazed fish or chicken, or a steaming bowl of noodles, you can pretty much get any Americanized Japanese–eatery staple your heart desires. On top of that, you can also order sashimi or roll-style sushi to split with your friends, or eat on your own, you selfish, no-friends-having sushi-hag. (C’mon, man, throw your broke friends a dragon roll if you’ve got the extra dollars. You know we’re good for it, baby.) Personally, I’m partial to the tonkotsu ramen bowl, since I love me some pork, and a whole broth with the stuff mixed in always sounds nice to me.
While I’ve never personally had any drinks at Shiki, yet, I can vouch for the Sapporo beer they offer. Sapporo’s good stuff, and goes down smooth, especially when you can get a pint of it on the side of any ramen bowl with a meat-based broth. A good pork ramen and Sapporo is a healthy way to live longer; it keeps the stress levels low. Also, hot sake is great, and I’ll always recommend having some anywhere you go to eat sushi, as long as you don’t (or, if you’re ballsy, you do) have something important to do after eating.
So that’s Shiki. If you’ve got some time and some friends to split the price of an Uber with, take a ride down to Shiki when the snow hits this year, slurp up some noodles, and have some good times while you’re sake-buzzed. Oh, also, be sure to get some of the green tea mochi that they offer for dessert. That stuff is soft and cushy like the single cheek of some magnificent ice cream booty. Toodle-loo for now, folks.