Dining Delights

Authenticity and Hospitality at Osawa Pasadena

By Brianna Chu

Fumi and Sayuri Tachibe opened their first restaurant together on April 18, 2013. Osawa is a passion project for the Tachibes, one that had been on their minds for a while. After about 30 years of Fumi having working at Chaya, he transitioned from working as a chef at a large, corporate chain of restaurants to a much smaller, family-owned and operated business. Sayuri had a previous career back in Japan, working for the airline industry, so hospitality was a business she was familiar with; but not restaurants.  However, undaunted by the challenge, she learned from a business advisor, studying the best ways to run their family restaurant and helping to launch it into the success it has today!

Osawa is a cultural exchange, bringing its patrons fresh, healthy, and authentic Japanese cuisine as well as the welcoming, warm-hearted hospitality of traditional Japanese culture. They know that going out to eat isn’t always healthy, so much consideration is put into ensuring their meals are healthy for their customers. Fumi aims to help encourage healthy eating amongst Osawa’s patrons, as Japanese cooking uses much less animal and trans fats, and of course, they use high-quality ingredients, fresh fish, and meats. He wants Osawa’s patrons to always be able to trust the chef and the ingredients.

While Osawa wasn’t too busy after the first year and a half, they did have some customers inquire about catering, and it set Sayuri thinking about the delicatessens in Japan that she missed from home. As a mother of three children, too, she thought about the many hard-working parents who may not always have the time to prepare fresh, healthy meals for their children, and wanted a place where anyone could come and get a meal they could trust without needing a reservation. And thus the idea for Delicatessen by Osawa was born!

The exterior and interior of Delicatessen by Osawa. – Photos by Brianna Chu / Beacon Media News

Delicatessen by Osawa is not the kind of place you would think of when the word “deli” pops into your mind. It’s a bright, modern, and chic cafe of sorts, with hot, freshly prepared items out for people to pick up and even eat-in. They have a small menu of other select items they can prepare, and Delicatessen handles catering requests, as well. Their fridge is stocked mostly with Japanese drinks and treats, and they even keep a freezer full of fun frozen desserts, too.

Treating customers as if they’re family is also central to both Fumi and Sayuri; and while of course, the quality of the ingredients is of great import, Fumi also added that he feels that heart and soul are also integral. Japanese food, to the Tachibes, involves not just high-quality food, but also excellent hospitality and atmosphere. And there is no doubt you will find exceptional hospitality at Osawa; they are warm, welcoming, eminently polite, and engaging. Their staff is a tight-knit family in and of itself – one of their chefs has worked with Fumi before, and many of the staff have worked at Osawa since they opened in 2013. Sayuri’s sister, as well as two of the Tachibes’ own children, work at their restaurants, too! And they open their family’s arms wide to every person who steps through their doors. Sayuri emphasized that they want their customers to feel truly welcome and at home at both restaurants.

Osawa gets busy, especially at lunchtime, and they aim to be prompt. While there is a fairly small kitchen filled with many chefs, Fumi can be quite strict, pushing to be able to accommodate everyone. Particularly for lunchtime, with so many people coming from work, they recognize that they have limited time. That promptness is no joke. We arrived for lunch at 11:31 am – one single minute after their opening – to find that three to four tables already had patrons sitting at them. Twenty minutes after opening, the small restaurant had folks sitting at practically all its tables; and by 12:15 pm, the entire sushi bar was also full, with people standing outside, considering, and queueing for lunch. Not even an hour after opening for lunch, two tables freed up…to be immediately reserved. It certainly gave me the impression that if you’re working, and you can get out in time, you’ll likely be able to make it out in 45 minutes.

The fried shishito peppers. – Photo by Brianna Chu / Beacon Media News

The popular fried shishito peppers appetizer ($10) was recommended to us, and we enjoyed them hot and fresh out of the kitchen. Five perfectly crisp, tempura-encased, tender shishito peppers were stuffed generously with a gently warming mixture of spicy tuna.

The rainbow sashimi salad. – Photo by Brianna Chu / Beacon Media News

In an attempt to stay healthy, I ordered the rainbow sashimi salad ($13), a bright mixture of greens, daikon, cucumber, and wakame, topped with one piece each of: salmon, tuna, albacore, yellowtail, and halibut, interspersed with slices of avocado. The light dressing didn’t overpower the fish, a refreshing combination of sweet, sour, and salty. I couldn’t help but immediately gravitate towards the fresh, thick slices of sashimi, but even without the fish, the dressing kept the salad easy to eat.

The shokado bento. – Photo by Brianna Chu / Beacon Media News

May ordered the most expensive (and expansive!) lunch item, the shokado bento ($24), served on a tray with small, freshly-prepared components. Four pieces of spicy tuna roll, a small serving of sashimi, preserved vegetables, miso soup, a bowl of rice, and a small plate of sunomono – a Japanese cucumber salad – accompanied small plates of grilled salmon steak and teriyaki-glazed steak. The grilled salmon was firm yet tender, with sweet edges to its savory flavor. The thick, slightly marbled slices of steak were cooked medium rare and generously topped with teriyaki sauce, served with a pristine scoop of mashed potatoes – served chilled, smooth and fluffy, and with a subtle sweetness.

The ichigo shiratama (left) and the black sesame panna cotta (right). – Photo by Brianna Chu / Beacon Media News

For dessert, I indulged in a black sesame panna cotta, which was incredibly smooth and creamy, packed with the nutty, earthy flavor of black sesame. As a huge fan of black sesame, this dessert was an absolute dream! May opted for the ichigo shiratama, a Japanese dessert with a scoop of strawberry ice cream as its foundations, topped with fresh strawberries, hot, hearty red beans, and pieces of ultra-soft and chewy mochi.

I finished my meal eager to return to Osawa and Delicatessen by Osawa to try more of their delicious menus. If you’re in the mood for great Japanese food, gather your friends and loved ones and head on over to Osawa!

Osawa Pasadena

77 N. Raymond Ave.

Pasadena, CA 91101

(626) 683-1150




LUNCH  11:30 am to 2:30 pm

DINNER 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm / 10:00 pm (FRI & SAT)


Delicatessen by Osawa

851 Cordova St.

Pasadena, CA 91101

(626) 844-8788




LUNCH  11:30 am to 2:30 pm

DINNER 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

July 11, 2019

About Author

Brianna Chu Brianna Chu is an opinion writer for Beacon Media who was born and raised in Pasadena. She loves to cook and to eat, is a lifelong viewer of Food Network, and enthusiastically introduced the tradition of Thanksgiving dinners to her British and European friends while earning her degree at the University of St Andrews. While they absolutely hated going around the table and saying what they were grateful for every year, they also loved the excuse to get together and feast with friends enough to endure it anyway. She also occasionally writes play reviews. She caught the theater bug in high school, acting in five plays and two musicals in high school, and continued to act, produce, and direct in university as well.

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