Uomasa @ Ebisboshi Shotengai

Our first impression of Ebisboshi Shotengai was that of yet another one of those stadium-concept clusters of ramen shops, where the service is shared, charges consolidate into one bill, but you’re free to order from the different restaurants.

Unfortunately, at times it also feels and sounds like an amusement park.

Expect lines out into the mall on busy weekday lunches and most weekends. But the families who pack the place are primarily there for the steaming bowls of Hokkaido-style noodles from the popular Bishamon ramen chain; they do respectable versions of char siew ramen ($14.90) and pork katsu ($7.80) or family-friendly fusion (natto and kimchi spaghetti, anyone?) from the new Bentendo outlet.

So the secret to jumping the queue is to grab what are usually available seats at the sushi bar of the third restaurant in this shotengai, Uomasa (roughly translates as “prosperous fishing village”), which is where you want to be ordering your food from anyway.

Compared with the limited offerings of the other two, the Uomasa menu is almost too huge. The grilled items are just average, the same can be said for their noodle and rice dishes, and the sushi won’t win any prizes—our unagi roll ($12) was delicious but unbalanced, with way too much rice. But Uomasa really excels when it comes to raw ingredients. From a five-item sashimi platter ($55) to freshly shucked oysters with ponzu ($7.80) to a barely cooked saba (mackerel) fillet ($10.80) that’s blow-torched on its skin side, the food is too good for its location, really. But sometimes you can’t choose your neighbors.