Jonathan Gold has been reviewing noodle spots and Asian cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley for years, but he doesn’t always visit some of the Pasadena spots. Recently, he praised Oswawa, a kind of exploration of Japanese cuisine in one place.
Helmed by Sayuri Tachibe and husband Shigefumi Tachibe, who served as the corporate chef for the U.S. Chaya restaurants for 31 years, Gold dubs the restaurant as a “izakaya-plus” offers everything from udon to sukiyaki to sushi rolls to pork chop rice.
Gold names “the chilled monkfish liver, the toasted salmon-skin hand roll and the phallic, brittle-skinned chicken meatballs called tsukune were among the best I’d ever had.”
Although Oswawa hasn’t always earned praise, according to Gold via Eater, the restaurant has greatly improved over the years and one reason is the battera sushi, a dish that isn’t often served at many sushi restaurants in the city, despite the plethora of sushi restaurants in the city.
Gold admits that although his favorite dish is the battera sushi, it’s not actually on the menu anymore and can’t really be considered Oswawa’s specialty.
The Goldster writes, “It’s not even on the menu anymore, although you can always get it if you ask. But I think it says something about the restaurant, which is probably best known for shabu shabu and elaborate bento boxes, that its version is so consistently first-rate, firm yet melting, singing with complex aroma, and formed with a fragrant shiso leaf or two at its core.”
In addition to reviewing Oswawa, Jonathan Gold’s annual list of his 101 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles came out last month and Italian focused Union remained on the list although previously named Pasadena restaurants have dropped off. Gold has named Racion as well as Lincoln as some of his essential spots to eat in the past, although this year seemed to focus on trendier and more upscale spots outside of town than some of his usual focus on smaller spots that tend to fly under the radar.
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