Last month, at Shin Sen Gumi's annual Charity Summer Festival (Natsu Matsuri), it was announced that they were opening a new location in Monterey Park (San Gabriel Valley), serving Yakitori and Shabu Shabu(!). My friends and I were stunned and elated. If they could maintain the same high-quality deliciousness of their original restaurants, it would mean the first legit Japanese Yakitori house in the San Gabriel Valley (finally)!
The new Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori and Shabu Shabu Restaurant just had their Grand Opening yesterday, Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007. We decided to swing by and try it out:
Their new location is on the corner of Atlantic Blvd. and Garvey, in the same plaza as Empress Harbor. The owners of Shin Sen Gumi spared no expense in redecorating the location. It's by far THE most elegant of the Shin Sen Gumi restaurants, featuring gorgeous Red Wood paneling, Stone Brick walls, and a romantic atmosphere. It's classy and clean, without being too off-putting. We were worried at first that it might be signaling a change to the "rural, down-to-earth" style food SSG is known for. But all those worries went out the window when the dishes arrived.
It should be noted that this is a hybrid Shin Sen Gumi: It serves Yakitori (roasted meats over a mesquite fire) and Shabu Shabu (Japanese-style Hot Pot). As a result of both distinct styles, their Menu for each style is more limited than their individual branches down south. The Yakitori menu serves about ~40% of the items on their normal full Yakitori menu, which was a little disappointing, but the items they did have were amazing!
They brought in their master Yakitori chefs, and it showed: The traditional Yakitori (Shio) (Roasted Chicken Thigh Meat with Green Onions, Salt marinade) was super moist and tender! Even better than their original branches (we were shocked). Their Cartilage, Gizzard, Beef Tongue skewers were all just as good as the originals as well! (excellent!)
They also had a small Izakaya-style menu, with some Fusion dishes and traditional dishes like their Chicken Kara-age (Fried Chicken, Japanese style). It was extremely delectable and moist! Their Tako Wasabi (Raw Octopus and Wasabi marinade) was also very well done. Really fresh, and the flavors of the wasabi and spices and octopus blended perfectly.
They brought in a great Sake Menu (not the full selection from their Fountain Valley branch, but still a good selection), and that means we finally get some real Sake in the SG Valley now. :)
They had many other dishes that we tried like the Fried Pork Feet in a Dijon Mustard & Apple sauce, which was a bit too overwhelmed by the mustard, but still tasty. Their Tuna Carpaccio was amazing! Tender, fresh, perfectly seared Tuna, that was still raw on the inside, and the blend of flavors was top-notch!
We were even personally greeted and served (at times) by "Mr. Shin Sen Gumi" himself! The Big Boss! It was exciting and an honor.
Overall, the New Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park) is a welcome addition, and makes a GREAT restaurant to dine at when we don't feel like driving down to the original branches. If you're in the mood for some delectable Japanese Yakitori or Japanese Shabu Shabu, in a really nice setting, but still classic "SSG" - they still shout out "Irasshaimase!!!" and cheer you on when you Toast for the first time, and "Thank You!" when you leave - look no further than Shin Sen Gumi (Monterey Park).
(Note: They said starting in November, they will start Lunch, but for now it's Dinner only.)
Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori & Shabu Shabu Restaurant
111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #248
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.