LocationAlhambra , CA
Japanese food – specifically ramen – is many things in the United States; maybe it’s a quick meal for the penniless, a comfort food for the nostalgic or a food trend for the entrepreneur.
For brothers Sung Ho and Jimmy Park, Japanese cuisine is a dynasty.
The Park brothers’ father moved from Korea to L.A.’s Koreatown to be a chef in the 1970s on a sponsored visa and brought Sung Ho and his mother a few years later. The family opened a sushi bar in Koreatown, and eventually landed in Pasadena with another sushi restaurant.
Younger brother Jimmy followed his father’s footsteps to become a bona fide chef and went to Japan in the early 2000s to study Japanese cuisine with the intentions of opening more restaurants.
The Park family owned Ichima sushi in Pasadena from 2005 to 2015 and began O’seyo Shabu Shabu the year they sold Ichima. Shabu-shabu is another kind of Japanese cuisine – think Chinese hot pot – prepared by the consumer instead of a chef by submerging proteins and vegetables in broth.
Sung Ho said they were looking for a location to open a ramen shop for many years, but nothing panned out – and then ramen restaurants were popping up everywhere.
Now, DashiWa Ramen has been in business for about a year. The older Park said it’s unfortunate that they did not get a chance to build a large following in the six months of business before the pandemic hit.
Now, business is down about 90% in both restaurants. “We get like 10 tickets a day at the other location,” he said.
“You have it bad, but so do 500 other businesses,” Sung Ho said. “It’s unlawful to have customers, so what do you do?”
DashiWa Ramen is set up to open indoor dining with all health precautions as soon as the county makes the announcement. At night, the bothers take advantage of the cooler weather and have two tables for outside dining.
However, the older Park brother says a full reopening too soon would be bad for the county and set the businesses and overall health back again. “Before, if the food is bad or the customer service is bad, that’s our fault, but it’s out of our hands.”
Despite the hardship, he is obviously proud of their business and credits his younger brother with making all the recipes.
“We have to make this from scratch. We feel like this is honoring our customers and it would be lying to ourselves if we used prepackaged ingredients.”
Even though the orders are prepared for take-out, Jimmy has thought of ways to prepare the dishes with the same amount of care – but on a smaller scale. For example, instead of a large pot of broth prepared for a quick turnover, each order’s broth is made individually in small pans.
“You can’t mimic authenticity,” Sung Ho said.
DashiWa Ramen is at 328 E Huntington Dr in Arcadia. Call 626-538-4185 or order on most food delivery apps.
O’seyo Shabu Shabu is at 2879 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. Call 626-844-0150 or order on most food delivery apps.