By Brianna Chu
After a decade of owning Ichima Sushi, owner James Park and his brother opened Oseyo Shabu Shabu in 2014. They transitioned into Oseyo and sold Ichima the next year. Park wanted to run a smaller restaurant so he could spend more time with his kids: so the shift from Ichima, which had a capacity of over 100, to Oseyo, with a capacity of 79 as well as a more focused and streamlined menu, allowed Park and his brother to more easily upkeep the quality of their restaurant while still being able to spend more time with their families.
Park always loved shabu shabu, so it was a straightforward choice to base the main menu around a food that he himself enjoys! The more streamlined menu helps them maintain a high quality in all of their food. Their beef, for instance, is all natural: from cows that have never been subjected to hormones or antibiotics, and have been provided vegetarian feed that is never processed with pesticides. Their popular blue crab wontons are made fresh, in-house, with real blue crab. Oseyo does offer some assorted non-shabu shabu based main dishes, like bibimbap, a salmon chirashi bowl, and cold soba noodles, as well as assorted appetizers and sushi rolls. However, the menu has remained at a sensible four-page length, which Park says has helped the workload for himself and his brother. They are both involved with a little bit of everything – from the front and back of the house to the kitchen.
The majority of the customer base are regulars and repeat customers, which Park says is a real compliment and blessing. And there’s a lot to return for: while not an overly large menu, the beauty of shabu shabu is the ability to customize, and the quality of the food is incredible for the price! The most expensive protein option for the shabu shabu, at $24.50, is a large portion of vintage prime rib eye at dinner, which is very budget-friendly (none of the appetizers or hand rolls exceed $7, either, making Oseyo a great place to bring friends and split some smaller plates before your full meals). The restaurant is at once cozy while also modern, bright, clean, and chic. With TV screens on the walls tuned to different channels, it’s an upbeat atmosphere where you can relax and hang out with your friends. And it seems that their regulars feel the same! When we came in at 11 am, the restaurant was fairly empty; but 90 minutes later, the buzz of laughter and conversation filled the entire space, and a party of five was waiting at the front of the restaurant for a table.
Spicy miso and sukiyaki are the bestselling broth bases, though Park himself prefers the konbu soup base. He considers it misunderstood, as many consider it bland. However, he points out that it’s not supposed to have that much flavor, and it’s after the proteins and vegetables have been cooked that you’re supposed to enjoy the broth with the udon. (And, pro tip – at the end of your meal, if you have rice left, they’ll make you a porridge from your leftover rice if you want, free of charge!)
Along with your soup base and choice of proteins, they prepare for your two sauces. The first is a light, creamy sesame sauce, gomu, with minced garlic, green onions, and a little bit of fresh sesame on top. The second, a citrus-based ponzu sauce with radish and green onions. There is also layu, chili oil, and togarashi, a mix of seven spices, available as condiments at the table, too. And while the gomu is typically used with vegetables and seafood and the ponzu usually complements the meats, it’s completely up to personal taste! (I will say that I definitely think that the ponzu cuts any heaviness you may feel from the meat.) Finally, there’s a refreshing yet warming bowl of pickled daikon, carrots, onion, and jalapeños.
We enjoyed some takoyaki, tempura balls with a creamy filling and usually octopus at the center, and some agedashi tofu, Park’s personal favorite appetizer. The takoyaki were perfectly bite sized, creamy, savory pockets of flavor, with some chewiness and texture from the octopus and an additional pop of umami from the dried bonito flakes on top. The agedashi tofu had a delicate batter exterior and a wonderfully silky interior, served in a ginger-infused sauce.
The spicy miso broth got a hint of warmth from the red chili flakes and lots of salt from the miso. The sukiyaki broth was savory and sweet, and comes with an egg on the side. I’d personally recommend putting harder vegetables like carrots in first so they can absorb flavor and soften, and anything else you want cooked a while (but remember that your broth will thicken and strengthen in flavor as the broth cooks down!). Our orders also came with udon, napa cabbage, carrots, green onion, seaweed, gourd, bamboo shoots, and tofu.
The proteins all looked and tasted incredibly fresh. We tried the surf and turf combination plate, with fresh and vibrant proteins: certified all-natural Angus prime beef, Atlantic salmon, wild giant scallops, and wild shrimp. The creamy, mild gomu perfectly complemented the succulent fresh seafood – and I always enjoy the cooking your own meal aspect to meals like shabu shabu and Korean barbecue, because everything can be cooked exactly to personal preference! The Angus prime beef from the surf and turf platter melted in my mouth like butter, and the vintage prime rib eye was naturally flavor-packed from its generous marbling. After we finished the meats, we cooked our udon in the remaining broth and enjoyed a flavor-packed, soul-satisfying bowl of noodles and vegetables.
Shabu shabu is a delicious, satisfying meal, and Oseyo provides high quality broth and ingredients at an equally fantastic price. Grab your friends and family and head on over for a good time! They don’t have a website, so if you want to reserve a table, be sure to give them a call.
Oseyo Shabu Shabu
2879 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107