Osawa: Melding the Traditional with the Modern

Offering an assortment of Otsumami (small plates), Shabu Shabu, and Sushi, Osawa blends the traditional with the modern

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | 4:00 pm

Seafood Cigar with To-ban-jan mayo

Owner Sayuri Tachibe

Bringing Omotenashi to Old Pasadena, Sayuri Tachibe has opened Osawa Restaurant. “Omotenashi is a word you have to translate with your heart.” says Sayuri, “It means that we truly care about our customers and strive to provide the right amount of personalized service at the right time.”

Offering an assortment of Otsumami (small plates), Shabu Shabu, and Sushi, Osawa blends the traditional with the modern. Chef de Cuisine, Chef Norio Yoshikawa, a 30-year veteran of the Japanese kitchen, brings his well-honed skills and a genuine desire to make guests feel welcome and relaxed.

Crunch Shrimp roll with a combination of shrimp tempura, spicy mayo and asparagus

I started with a bit of Sushi; Osawa has a small but respectable Sushi menu offering an assortment of Sushi, Sashimi and rolls. I chose the Crunch Shrimp roll with a combination of shrimp tempura, spicy mayo and asparagus.  Chef Norio adds a little secret to his sushi rice, Akasu (red vinegar).

“Due to the long processing time, Red Vinegar is more rare and expensive,” says Norio, “but it gives the rice a sweet fragrant flavor that balances perfectly with the fish.”

I have to agree with Chef Norio, the Sushi roll had a little something extra that made it pop. I also liked the organic semi brown rice he uses; it gave a nutty flavor to the dish.


Kizakura Gold Leaf Tokkuri Ikkon and Alladin Bottle Yuzu Sake

Osawa has a large selection of Otsumani, (Japanese tapas-like food, raw and cooked, customarily served with alcohol) and an eclectic offering of Sake. I was captivated by the Yuzu Sake and my companion ordered the Gold Leaf Tokkuri Ikkon with real gold leaves in the drink. Our Sake was served with a bowl of assorted Sake cups in all colors, shapes and sizes. It was fun to look through all the gem-like cups and choose a favorite.


Shishito Tempura stuffed with Spicy Tuna

To go along with our Sake I chose two Otsumani; Seafood cigar and Shishito tempura. I loved the tart-sweet taste of the Yuzu Sake and the Gold Leaf Sake was smooth and mellow as well as fun. The Seafood cigars were tightly-wrapped and crispy rolls of assorted seafood served with a spicy to-ban-jan mayo. The seafood was mellow and worked well with the heat of the mayo. I was worried when I saw the plate of tempura battered Shishito peppers placed on the table: would they be too hot for my companion whose idea of spicy is black pepper? No they weren’t. This was a favorite dish of mine. The peppers were sweet and the spicy tuna stuffed inside added just a bit of bite. If you don’t appreciate raw fish, the fact that these peppers are deep-fried cooks the tuna inside the pepper.  This dish was a real treat.

Osawa Special Shabu Shabu

Since Shabu Shabu is a specialty of Osawa I had to try it. I chose the seafood of the day which was salmon. A pot of boiling broth quickly cooked the delicate salmon and a plate of noodles, vegetables and tofu gave it some substance. I was surprised to learn the term Shabu Shabu comes from the sound the sound you make as you gently swish your chopstick-held morsels of thinly sliced meat, vegetables, and noodles in the steaming broth. I found this to be a delicious and interactive dish. Osawa’s Shabu Shabu also comes with prime rib eye, tonkotsu kurobuta pork and wagyu beef from saga (a bit on the pricey side at $89.00).

Organic Caramel Flan

The attentive waitress talked us in to ordering dessert, caramel flan, which was not only delicious with its delicate custard and deep rich caramel sauce but also charming in its presentation. I got to unwrap it like the gift it was.

Osawa is located at 77 N. Raymond Avenue in Old Pasadena. They are open for lunch Tuesday – Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. For more information call (626) 683-1150 or visit www.theosawa.com.

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