Chef Profiles

New Chef, New Menu Items and Lots of Sake: Osawa Turns 1

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | 12:42 PM

In a city filled with culinary outposts that honor cuisines from all across the world, one stands out for offering a unique, authentic and heartfelt representation of Japanese food from taste to presentation. Osawa has been delighting guests with their outstanding approach to hospitality, and mouthwatering menu offerings, ever since their launch one year ago. That’s right – Osawa is officially celebrating its one-year anniversary, and they’re doing so with the addition of a new chef, new menu items and complimentary sake for guests over 21!

“I’m really excited to be celebrating our one-year anniversary,” says Sayuri Tachibe, Owner of Osawa. “Owning a business can be a great deal of work and long hours, but I’m enjoying the role of owner, manager and being together alongside my coworkers. What is most rewarding is seeing our many regular guests that come to the restaurant two or three times a week. Osawa is like their kitchen at home. Hearing about their lives as we chat at their tables brings me great joy. I love it!”

It’s all part and parcel with Sayuri’s attention to ‘Omotenashi’, a traditional form of Japanese hospitality that focuses on treating guests like royalty, and making them as comfortable as you would if they were being welcomed to your home. It’s an approach Sayuri honed while working at Japan Airlines for four years, not to mention a value that’s instilled in the Japanese culture as a whole. It’s so ingrained in Sayuri, that it has been her focus from Osawa’s inception, that warm and inviting attention to detail is exemplified by everyone who works at the restaurant.

Osawa’s celebration of one year in operation is also marked with a new addition to their talented roster. Chef Seiji Nakano joins Osawa as their new Sushi Chef, sharing 44 years of knowledge and artistry with Osawa’s guests. Having worked at outposts such as Toranoko, Katana and Inagiku at the Bonaventure Hotel, Chef Nakano comes to Osawa with a fervent fan following, so much so, that guests make reservations a week in advance so that they can sit at the sushi bar and watch him work.

“His hands are magic,” Sayuri enthuses. “He is so funny and very artistic. He entertains guests of all ages at the sushi bar by creating butterflies, flowers and goldfish out of his food, and he likes to surprise our guests. Sometimes he makes them things out of origami paper. He wants to inspire everyone, and we’re learning so much from him. It’s truly a unique experience to sit and enjoy a meal that he has created.”

Chef Nakano joins Chef Norio Yoshikawa, a veteran of Katana and Kagaya who has overseen the kitchen since Osawa’s launch. Sayuri notes that customers also ask for him by name, and it’s not hard to see why. Chef Yoshikawa’s traditional approach to shabu shabu is legendary, using top-notch ingredients such as rib eye, wagyu beef, and the newly added tonkotsu kurobuta pork. Chef Yoshikawa has also added a brand new Shokado bento box to the menu, which offers a selection of sushi, sashimi and traditional meats.

Osawa’s daily specials change frequently to reflect the local and seasonal markets. Among the current spring specials are Snapper Arare Tempura, Fried Potato with Shichimi and Yuzu Aioli, Crispy Brussels with Curry Salt and Jidori Chicken Liver Mousse. It’s a mandate Chef Nakano also follows behind the sushi bar, offering monthly specials based on what’s freshly caught or new to taste. This month, the sushi specials include Uni Tofu, Jelly Fish, Blue Fin Tuna and more. To put it simply, there’s always something tasty and new to enjoy at Osawa!

As part of Sayuri and Osawa’s dedication to ‘Omotenashi’, guests who come to visit Osawa from April 30th to May 30th will each be treated to a complimentary glass of sake, as long as they are 21 and over, of course. The celebratory sake of choice will be Jitsuraku Junmai from Hyogo, Japan, which is just one of several new sakes that have been added to Osawa’s drink menu. And, how did they choose the sakes they added to their drink list? By conversing with their customers, of course.

That deepening connection with their customers is something that will always define Osawa, no matter how many anniversaries they have. Says Sayuri, “We love our customers, we listen to them, and we try to make something special for them to heighten their experience every time they come in. Some of our customers travel to Japan, and when they return, they request certain dishes they had while in Japan, and we like to recreate them. Our customers bring their friends, family and coworkers, and we even have customers who come by themselves, which can be hard for some people to do. But they come and bring a book, or they chat with us, like it’s their home, which is what I wanted. I wanted Osawa to be a nice home-style neighborhood restaurant, and I wanted to share real Japanese food made by real Japanese chefs. I hope that more people will come to Pasadena to enjoy our restaurant, our food, and our ‘Omotenashi’ for years to come.”

Osawa is open for lunch every Monday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and for dinner every Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., every Friday & Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and every Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information or reservations, please call Osawa directly at (626) 683-1150.

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