[Review] NEW Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park, CA)
Last month, at Shin Sen Gumi's annual Charity Summer Festival (Natsu Matsuri), it was announced that they were opening a new location in Monterey Park (San Gabriel Valley), serving Yakitori and Shabu Shabu(!). My friends and I were stunned and elated. If they could maintain the same high-quality deliciousness of their original restaurants, it would mean the first legit Japanese Yakitori house in the San Gabriel Valley (finally)!
The new Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori and Shabu Shabu Restaurant just had their Grand Opening yesterday, Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007. We decided to swing by and try it out:
Their new location is on the corner of Atlantic Blvd. and Garvey, in the same plaza as Empress Harbor. The owners of Shin Sen Gumi spared no expense in redecorating the location. It's by far THE most elegant of the Shin Sen Gumi restaurants, featuring gorgeous Red Wood paneling, Stone Brick walls, and a romantic atmosphere. It's classy and clean, without being too off-putting. We were worried at first that it might be signaling a change to the "rural, down-to-earth" style food SSG is known for. But all those worries went out the window when the dishes arrived.
It should be noted that this is a hybrid Shin Sen Gumi: It serves Yakitori (roasted meats over a mesquite fire) and Shabu Shabu (Japanese-style Hot Pot). As a result of both distinct styles, their Menu for each style is more limited than their individual branches down south. The Yakitori menu serves about ~40% of the items on their normal full Yakitori menu, which was a little disappointing, but the items they did have were amazing!
They brought in their master Yakitori chefs, and it showed: The traditional Yakitori (Shio) (Roasted Chicken Thigh Meat with Green Onions, Salt marinade) was super moist and tender! Even better than their original branches (we were shocked). Their Cartilage, Gizzard, Beef Tongue skewers were all just as good as the originals as well! (excellent!)
They also had a small Izakaya-style menu, with some Fusion dishes and traditional dishes like their Chicken Kara-age (Fried Chicken, Japanese style). It was extremely delectable and moist! Their Tako Wasabi (Raw Octopus and Wasabi marinade) was also very well done. Really fresh, and the flavors of the wasabi and spices and octopus blended perfectly.
They brought in a great Sake Menu (not the full selection from their Fountain Valley branch, but still a good selection), and that means we finally get some real Sake in the SG Valley now. :)
They had many other dishes that we tried like the Fried Pork Feet in a Dijon Mustard & Apple sauce, which was a bit too overwhelmed by the mustard, but still tasty. Their Tuna Carpaccio was amazing! Tender, fresh, perfectly seared Tuna, that was still raw on the inside, and the blend of flavors was top-notch!
We were even personally greeted and served (at times) by "Mr. Shin Sen Gumi" himself! The Big Boss! It was exciting and an honor.
Overall, the New Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park) is a welcome addition, and makes a GREAT restaurant to dine at when we don't feel like driving down to the original branches. If you're in the mood for some delectable Japanese Yakitori or Japanese Shabu Shabu, in a really nice setting, but still classic "SSG" - they still shout out "Irasshaimase!!!" and cheer you on when you Toast for the first time, and "Thank You!" when you leave - look no further than Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park).
(Note: They said starting in November, they will start Lunch, but for now it's Dinner only.)
Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori & Shabu Shabu Restaurant
111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #248
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
were you there at the opening? the chicken was EXCELLENT, but then again, ayumu, veteran of the torrance yakitoriya, was manning the helm. they don't have the bacon-wrapped maki items on this menu though, which might be a good thing as i'll probably be eating there all the time and that stuff would be the end off me. their motsu nabe soup is very flavorful and an exotic treat for anyone who's never had this hakata regional specialty.
i was like, with the 2nd to last table to leave (not counting the staff and owner)... it was a blast!
We went on the 2nd day of their Grand Opening. Thanks for the heads up on the motsu nabe soup (we were eyeing that but we ordered so many other items we passed on it. We'll definitely have to try it this weekend! :).
All-in-all, I'm definitely happy we have a great new restaurant in the SGV area!
the motsu nabe might take some getting used to if you're not a regular tripe/intestine eater. i certainly am not, and usually pick out the tripe in my pho. but having it in this manner at shin sen gumi was by far the most palatable, and i would order it again. mainly because the soup has such a distinctive flavor!
No, unfortunately those 3 yakitori items on their normal menu aren't served at their new location. But they make up for it with some unique (and tasty) Broth / Stew styles on the Shabu Shabu menu, and their Izakaya menu.
But there's hope: It's a new restaurant, the Big Boss was present, and there's always room to *add* more of their Yakitori menu to this new location as the weeks go on (I'm guessing they're getting a feel for what items are selling best and will expand in that direction).
(Added Pictures and More Updates on Food:)
Update to my Review of Shin Sen Gumi: I brought a friend to try it out tonight. I was curious to see how Shin Sen Gumi would hold up after its second full week in operation, and?
The New Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park) is still as tasty as ever!
Tonight we decided to try out a unique item on the menu (not normally found on a Shabu Shabu menu): Hakata Style Chicken Hot Pot. This was basically a large soup pot filled with Nappa Cabbage, Green Onions, Mung Bean Noodles, Tsukune (Marinated Ground Chicken Meatballs), and pieces of fresh Chicken, all combined in a House Special Chicken Broth that's been stewed at least 24 Hours(!). This turned out to be one of the tastiest Soups I've ever had! Beautifully combined with interesting herbs and a very light broth, not too salty, wonderfully done, and paired perfectly with their fresh Champon Noodles. This is definitely something we'll go back for, especially as the Winter months approach.
The traditional Shio Yakitori (Marinated Roasted Chicken with Green Onions, roasted over Mesquite Wood Coals) was still as tender and amazing as during their Grand Opening (2 weeks ago)! It's still superior to their other original branches, which is amazing. Their Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage) skewers were fabulous as well. The Kaisou Salad (Fresh Mixed Green Salad with Japanese Seaweed and a Sesame Dressing) was very fresh and a perfect complement to the meat dishes.
With their Izakaya / Fusion Dishes (Japanese Tapas-like small plates), Yakitori menu (Roasted Meats on Skewers over Mesquite Coals), and their Shabu Shabu menu (with unique specialty items like the Hakata Chicken Soup, and Motsu Soups), combined with Warm, Effervescent Service ("Osu!!!"), Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori and Shabu Shabu in Monterey Park, CA, is turning out to be a real winner, and fabulous addition to the San Gabriel Valley!
(Pictures added below. Note: The one picture is of Musashimaru, the Yokozuna (Grand Sumo Champion) who made an appearance at Shin Sen Gumi's Annual Charity Summer Festival this year. :)