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Sep 11, 2013 11:05 PM

Osawa - Pasadena

Dropped in for a little Japanese love and that's exactly what we got!

Finally, some great Japanese food in the SGV and Pasadena...Kimagure, Ichi, and now OSAWA!

After perusing the menu indecisively, we decided to go with the chef's choice - omakase and were not disappointed. We've eaten at many of the good L.A. sushi restaurants - Urasawa, Zo, Yamakase, n/naka - and must say the quality of the fish here is pristine. It's certainly not trying to be the aforementioned restaurants, but it's definitely some place one could drop in every day at a terrific value and be perfectly happy. Would compare it more to a Kiriko in West L.A., but better at a fraction of the price.

Single pieces of hamachi, maguro, pompano, shima aji, saba from Japan, Hokkaido scallop, albacore just to name a few - all super fresh. The texture and temperature of the rice were solid - slightly al dente and a little warm. The izakaya dish, matsutake dobinmushi, was sublime. But the ringer was the A5 Kobe sushi from the chef's hometown of Saga. Rocked my world!

Finished off with tamago (a tad wet) and superb black sesame panacotta made with organic soy milk and caramel custard made with organic eggs and milk in little jars covered by the most beautiful japanese papers (nice touch).

The service was terrific. Attentive gals who really understood the menu and the sake and wine list. Very professional.

Can't wait to come back and try the shabu shabu when the weather gets cooler.

Small tight well curated sake and wine list. Reasonable corkage at $10/btl.

Will be part of our regular rotation. Highly recommended if in Pasadena.

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  1. i notice that very few CHers comment on the quality of the rice; IMO but it really makes a difference in complementing the neta, and i've not been so impressed with some of the places everyone seems to rave about because of that. there's a reason apprentices in japan typically spend years washing the rice before they ever get a chance to do knife work.

    2 Replies
    1. re: barryc

      Funny you mention: I was just about to ask about the shari...

      1. re: J.L.

        I'm not so particular about my shari and usually just take it as the chef's style. Mentioned it as some have a very strong preference and thought it would be worth describing for those who are opposed to warm shari. Glad it helped!

    2. Wondering how reasonable the damages for your omakase were?

      5 Replies
      1. re: cfylong

        We asked for $45/person which got us:
        sushi one piece each (not huge pieces, but appropriate manageable bites):
        -shima aji from Japan
        -saba from Japan
        -Hokkaido scallop
        -salmon (torched & awesome)
        -a whitefish whose name we can't recall with yuzu
        -kobe (torched) on shira (fave dish of the night)

        Most had some preparation adding salt, yuzu, ponzu, simple accents with a light touch. Nothing swimming in sauce to mask the fish. Only a couple of pieces we dipped in soy. He advised for wider variety of fish to come Thursday & Friday, but for Wednesday we didn't feel cheated not having uni or toro.

        Interspersed between these dishes were:
        - good quality edamame starter
        - cylinder of smoky eggplant topped with a mix of ground chicken and miso (had something like this at Raku)
        - crispy fried spicy chicken wings (perfectly cooked, never thought I could be excited about a deep fried wing)
        - matsutake dobinmushi

        We added one order of the ankimo which we really didn't need (too much food). It was good, but not the best monkfish liver we've ever had.

        - black sesame organic soy pannacotta
        - caramel custard made with organic eggs and milk

        Could be missing a dish or two. Will add if my memory serves me better.

        Again, if one is in Pasadena and feels Kimagure is too much of splurge, Osawa will scratch the itch for sushi.

        Looking forward to trying some more of the cooked dishes and shabu shabu.

        Hope that helps.

        1. re: revets2

          That was all included for $45???? That sounds like a ridiculously good deal....

          1. re: ilysla

            We thought it was a very fair deal and are more relieved to find authentic Japanese food and sushi in Pasadena that was good to great quality and isn't wasn't the splurge of Kimagure can be (though we really like Kimagure).

            The pieces of fish weren't huge, bite size, but not offensively small.

            Should have clarified the cooked dishes (otsumami) and dessert were shared plates between the two of us. Not sure a solo diner would have received the same (economies of scale).

            Was more impressed with the quality of fish and food than the quantity.

            It was not an obscene amount of food. Just right for me.

            1. re: revets2

              But the shared dishes were included for the price? (I normally don't dine alone)

              I don't get out to Pasadena all that often, but it'd be nice to have some different choices when I do. $45 for a respectable amount of good quality sushi sounds like a fine deal to me....

              1. re: ilysla

                If you do get to Pasadena, it's a worthy value sushi stop (chuckling because value for us is the $6.99 taco sampler at Guisados).

                Our last omakase at Kiriko was $85. Comparitively, Kimagure at $80 is a better experience (sit only at the bar, Ike-san canot serve some dishes to the tables). Reservations required.

                Osawa is not Kimagure, but comparitive and for us, preferable to Kiriko. There was no omakase menu at Osawa, though they may want to entertain it. We just told the chef we wanted to spend $45 each.

                Hope that comparison helps.

                Can't wait to try the shabu shabu and compare the QPR to Kagaya.

      2. So it's a shabu shabu place that has some sushi? Don't see a sushi menu on their site, just mention of a medley.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mc michael


          When you enter, the shabu shabu bar is tall on the left and the sushi bar is low on the right.

          We went for the otsumami, but asked for omakase instead.

          Next time shabu shabu, I think. They said we could order the waygu as a half portion add-on with any shabu order. Hoping it might be a nice choice in between Kagaya and Shabu Shabu House.

          Perhaps it's not on the menu because it will change every day. There's that beautiful picture of oysters on the website, but no oysters in the middle of the week. They presented us with the sushi list with the requisite pencil, but decided to go with the chef's choice which is usually our preference. The chef said it's pretty quiet middle of the week in the first weeks of September. Suggested we come Thursday or Friday when their shipments come in. Still, the fish we had was really terrific.

          They didn't tell us this, but I read the restaurant is owned by Sayuri Tachibe, the wife of the Exec Chef for the Chayas. She was very gracious and accommodating.

        2. Thanks for the report!

          1. Thanks for the report and to know that the sushi scene in Pasadena continues to get better and better. I'd feel guilty cheating on my beloved Sushi Ichi to go here, though!