Cal Shabu * Santa Monica

The Inception of a "Japanese" restaurant

Shabu Test Kitchen. Possible Happy Hour Appetizers?!

OK, so shabu-shabu can get a little monotonous in the kitchen, so of course what else do we do, but start our own little Cal Shabu Test Kitchen. We have limited cooking utensils, but its almost jailhouse style culinary cuisine… but way better I’m sure… Check these out…
IMG_8771Our first attempt at sushi rolls… Salmon, teriyaki, green onions, Sriracha and a bunch of other things! Not Bad for a first attempt, but we’re not a sushi restaurant. So lets see what else we can come up with…


Baked Salmon Skin Rolls with pink garlic, Japanese mayo, spicy teriyaki and homemade salmon poke. Yummy!!!! But still its sushi… haha.. back to the test kitchen…


So we thought maybe we should try a beef dish, so we sliced up some jalapenos, made some cheater sushi rice, marinated onions in shichimi and chili oil, added a small flamed piece of rib eye, a little mayo, sriracha, and julienned spinach and carrots. Not bad! But for some reason we were still obsessed with the salmon…


Slice of cucumber, sushi rice ball with a seared piece of salmon, seasoned with our own house shichimi togarashi and a splash of spicy teriyaki. Now I’m getting hungry! Last but not least, one more salmon tester… Amazing!


And on that note, I’m going to make some appetizers right now! Email us if you think we should start trying some of these in the restaurant. Cheers!!


New Art!! Fairey Prints and more coming!!



Sorry some of the prints are still wrapped up. We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do on the hood exterior. Its kind of a big canvas.

IMG_8873Found these prints on one of my favorite sites FAB, and decided to have them lacquered instead of traditional frame. They turned out amazing! So far New York and Tokyo are done, LA and London are coming next!


New Hours!! And Happy Hours!! And Side dishes!!

So Its been quite a while since we’ve had an entry, and its definitely long overdue. There have been quite a few changes since last, but lets do all of our catch-up.


Mon-Sat: Lunch: 12 – 2:30  Dinner: 5:30 – 10pm

Sunday: 5:30 – 10pm (we’re changing the decal on the door tomorrow. Sorry about all of the changes recently)



So, no change from before, but we’ve continued our all week happy hours. All lunch and from 5:30 – 7:30pm.

$3 Pints of Kirin or Sapporo

$4 Hot Sake/Mixed Shochu Carafes

Buck off wine. Come drink early while we keep these Happy Hours!!


3. SIDE PICKLED DISHES “Good with Shabu and Beer!”

These sides are making their way into our other locations slowly, but for now Santa Monica and Long Beach offer them. Costa Mesa will be offering them hopefully next week. Japanese food has always had Tsukemono or pickled dishes as small complements to the meal. These are our favorites, and go great not only with shabu, but best of all with your sake and beer. You can’t go wrong with the spicy pickles.


We’re working to bring you a few more goodies, but little by little. Enjoy the sides. Cheers!

Shabu-Shabu and Drafty Beer Updates!!

Our utmost apologies once again for going on an unexpected hiatus from updating our blog. Since our last entry, this is whats been going on: Our logo will be updated soon, our website has been temporarily updated, we’ve changed some of our rotating beers, we’ve embarked on our first ever google advertising campaign, we’ve added another optional ingredient to our goma sauce, we’ve added a garage parking sign, we’ve changed some of our smaller art pieces, we’ve made our first Cal Shabu iron-on patches, we’ve made our first Cal Shabu promotional video, and we’re actually closing in on our 1 Year Anniversary!!!

So our website has not been updated for over a decade! The interweb has changed quite a bit since the late 90’s and it was long overdue for an overhaul. We’re still fine tweaking our updated logo, but here’s our placeholder for the moment.

Beer, beer, beer… Sorry for not doing an update sooner. Posting our beer list on the blog seems the most natural thing to do, and I’m retarded for not doing it sooner. I think all of our beers are 90+ pointers on beer advocate, with the exception of one. Enjoy!


  • Allagash White
  • Cismontane Citizen Lager
  • Deschutes Black Butte
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • Green Flash Saison Diego
  • Strand 24th St. Pale Ale


  • Hitachino Nest White Ale
  • Asahi Black
  • Orion

Onto our newest sauce addition; Freshly ground roasted black and white sesame seeds. This just completes the goma’s flavor profile. Ask for it when you get your hot drops!

Our parking signage is kind of a make-shift one we made with our vinyl plotter. For those who don’t know yet, we have underground spaces which can be accessed from the alley between 9th and 10th streets. Once you enter the alley, you’ll see the sign below directing you into a parking garage. For the time being as well, the Longevity karate studio has moved, and all of their marked spaces are available for parking until a new tenant comes in.

We’ve been looking for the right group of artists to do something special for the outside face of our ventilation hoods, and we’re close, but for now we got a couple new smaller pieces in. Fernando over at Universal Art Gallery has been amazing in helping us with the framing process. This orange/silver aluminum frame couldn’t be any more perfect for the simple and poppy Phil Lumbang piece. You can check out some of Phil’s earlier work here.

The second piece is a limited print released by Dissizit in 2011 with all proceeds going towards the Japan relief efforts. The artist is Slick.

When I first saw this print, not only was the overall visual cool, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia and childhood references. Every time I look at this little character, I’m reminded of Cool Spot, the 7-Up mascot from the 90’s. Well, at least a Japanese version.

In the name of marketing and branding, we also made one run of small iron-on patches. We thought they turned out pretty cool, and made them in 2 color combos: Charcoal/Yellow and Purple/Teal. If you’re one of our regulars and want to represent, let us know when you come in!

I went a little crazy in the beginning, but I’m just really happy to be able to finally represent Cal Shabu with a little style.

On that final note, its time for some shuteye and I’ll leave you with a photo of my cat Charlie’s least guilty face…

Open, open, open Memorial Monday!!!

We are open Monday! Come get some shabu-shabu and some watermelon shochu love! Have a great last day of the weekend!

2 New Ways to get BUZZED @ Cal Shabu Santa Monica!!! Memorial Weekend Drunks!!

Our apologies for the long hiatus from blogging, we haven’t forgotten!! We’ve been making some new drinks for our menu, and what better weekend than Memorial weekend to unload our newest, highest-alcohol-content-we-can-serve, fresh-squeezed watermelon shochu delight!! For those who don’t know exactly what shochu is, its basically a magical elixir for our lowly beer and wine license. It’s the closest thing to vodka that we can serve, distilled like sake and with a much more neutral and vodka-like flavor than sake; it makes shochu one of the best mixers. It can be, and is drunken with craploads of different things. Not only did we get a couple new drinks, but we made ourselves some blackboard signage and a sandwich board which we’re learning how to draw on with chaulk.

We’re getting there slowly..

Happy Memorial Day!!! Deal Ends after Monday dinner!

Have a great weekend!!

So the final product turned out halfway decent!

After a few awkwardly printed shirts, we finally came out with something kinda ok.

Purple, Charcoal, and our kinda version of pink.

Teal & Purple.

The crew.

Signage!! DirecTV!!! Its all coming together!! Lakers vs Spurs Tonight @ CalShabuSM!!

We’ve been dying to put some sort of media in our place, and also wanted play the Laker games amongst others. There were a few objectives in this project, namely stealthiness and subtlety. We’ve always hated restaurants which lost their ambience to becoming a quasi sports bars. We’re not hating on sports bars, just don’t want to lose our restaurant to the boob tube.

The biggest challenges for us were cost and placement of televisions to get the maximum coverage, but we also wanted to make it a point of keeping the tv’s out of the main focal point. We still want to maintain our love for food, drink, and conversation, but didn’t want to overpower the space by the 6 digital screens we had scattered throughout.

It was of utmost importance that we hid the tv’s from the street, but allowed the seated customers to look up and catch the games if they wanted, but at the same time they didn’t have to if they didn’t want to. We even went so far as to recess and angle one of the tv’s which had the toughest viewing angle.

Due to the serpentine nature of our bar layout, the winding curves make equal visibility very difficult. Virtually impossible might be more accurate. Each tv can cover a mixumum of 4-7 people, and with 47 seats, thats alot of tv’s needed. There’s been too much repetition of the word tv in this post.

Our man Geo took care of the drywall and knocked out this custom tv nook in one all night session.


Go Lakers!!

New Tees for the girls!!

Something we’ve always wanted to do is make our own tees. We’ve gone through numerous print shops, which have been great to us, but experimentation costs money. So with what would have cost us a couple of runs worth of shirt printing, we decided to use Len’s press, and bought ourselves some screens, inks, and a flash heater. We were all set to becoming big tee shirt printers!!!

We started with tidying up the garage a bit, and then laid our our inks on our makeshift table. Too many chemicals!! After running a bunch of shirts, we decided that we would soon be swapping our plastisol ink for more environmentally friendly water based eco-inks. But for now we really like the vibrance that only plastisol can bring, so we’ll knock out a few more to keep our servers clothed, and hopefully sell a few too.

Since we needed a light safe place to store our unexposed screens, I decided to build a little makeshift storage darkroom out of left over pvc pipe I’d had laying around for the last 4 years from my now completed sprinkler project. I was so excited to have found a use for my clutter!!! We taped a bunch of rosin paper around it, and voila!!! We had ourselves a somewhat fragile darkroom.

We were finally ready to start printing, well almost. We finished applying our photo emulsion to the screens, cured them in our little light safe area, and were finally ready to expose them. Once exposed, we setup our press, and were ecstatic to print our first tee ever!!

Everything looked in place and kind of professional! At least thats what we wanted to tell ourselves.

We mix our inks, because out of the tub colors were just not for us. Except for the teal once we used it, but you’ll see that later.

Anthony making our signature “shabu charcoal”.

I finally get to lay one out. Hopefully these all turn out good!!!

If you still don’t know where we’re located, our sign is finally up!

So, after uhh…. 5 months?? Give or take maybe a month or 2… We finally have our sign!!!! But wait, to continue our slew of difficulties, the sign may look complete… but upon closer inspection, problems abound. Lets look at the good first.

So it started out promising, and it was looking pretty slick.

Onto the details. Do you see anything wrong with the pic below?

If you noticed the little pinholes of light to the right of the signage… they’re actually called weepholes, and are meant to be facing downward so that the excess rainwater can drain out of the lettering. Since we never intended our sign to be oriented sideways, this was simply an unacceptable oversight. Lets see what the signage company does to right the wrong.

And, on the opposite side of the weepholes, are these ugly, mandatory UL stickers, which are only allowed to be moved or removed by the fabricator, or we get fined some silly amount of money. The stickers and sharpie writing doesn’t really go with our motif. Its been another 2 weeks now since the sign has been installed, and still no corrections from the signage company. We’re still waiting………..

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