Iconic Little Tokyo mainstay, the US' 1st shabu-shabu restaurant, closes after 32 years


Shabu-Shabu House, an icon in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and reportedly the first restaurant of its kind in the United States, has already closed its doors after 32 years of serving the community.

Sad announcement: Masako and Yoshinobu Maruyama, the restaurant's owners, broke the news in an Instagram post on Saturday, revealing that their lease will end on Tuesday. The owners also noted that the demolition of their business had already begun on Friday and is expected to be finished on the day of their lease expiration.

What they are saying: In the post's caption, the owners apologized for only announcing the news after the restaurant’s closure, explaining that the decision was made to “avoid confusion.”

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“I hope to see you again somewhere in the near future,” the text on the picture uploaded to Instagram read. “Thank you for [your] patronage over the past 32 years.”

Its history: Shabu-Shabu House, which was located in the Japanese Village Plaza Mall in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo District, opened its doors in 1991. The restaurant is considered the first shabu-shabu (“swish swish” in English) restaurant in the United States.

Shabu-Shabu House was a “cook it yourself” type of restaurant in which diners could cook their meat on their table. In shabu-shabu, diners dip their thinly sliced meat – often beef – into a pot of boiling broth to cook it, which only takes a few seconds.

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How people reacted: Many Instagram users expressed sadness at the news, with one user writing that a part of them “dies today.”

“I’ve been going here since it opened and it was always the best shabu-shabu in the city,” another user commented. “Thank you so much for feeding us all these years!”

Marathon runner and photographer Jorge Peniche noted in his comment that the announcement was “devastating news,” asking the owners, “Is there anything we can do to help keep the doors open?”

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