An institution for French-Japanese sophistication

By Karen Young

Trendy restaurants come and go, but a true classic is to be treasured. South Pasadena’s Shiro continues to be an inspiring destination, where light jazz quietly fills the sophisticated minimalist space while conversation flows easily at candlelit, white-clothed tables.

Regaled as a pioneer in French-Japanese cuisine, original owner and chef Hideo Yamashiro (“Shiro”) opened this prized restaurant 28 years ago. In 2004, he left to pursue other ventures, turning over the reigns to Luis Alfonso Ortega Banuelos (aka Chef Mota) along with partners Sherrill Bailey and Irene Yokoi, who have continued his legacy with an elegant fusion of dishes, attentive service, and a seasonal menu printed daily.

Kick off with a specialty cocktail, like the refreshing Shiro-tini, bringing together basil, cucumber, and shochu; or the festive French Quarter, with Jack Daniels, mint, lime, and soda. Noteworthy starters include the tender wonton ravioli with shrimp mousse, resting in a shiitake mushroom cream sauce, and truffle ravioli, fluffy pockets stuffed with spinach and ricotta and topped with truffle shavings, all floating under a rich fontina cheese sauce. And if Hudson Valley foie gras with sea scallops or poached pears is offered, make sure to stake your claim on that one, too—there’s nothing more luxurious.

Shiro’s signature entrée—a sizzling three-pound whole catfish (pictured), strategically topped with cilantro, infused with ginger slices, and served with ponzu sauce—elicits sighs of wonder. This impressive dish can be found on many ‘Top Chef” menus, but Shiro’s version is the original. Meanwhile, meat-lovers can find satisfaction in the grilled prime Black Angus ribeye or the New Zealand lamb chops. Vegetarian? Not a problem—a succulent, sautéed tofu steak comes surrounded by an array of vegetables.

Cap the Shiro experience with fresh fruit-filled crêpes adorned with balsamic sauce, or the house apple tart draped with thick caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla. And for the perfect final touch, indulge in a sweet glass of Muscato D’Asti.


Wed–Fri 6 PM–9 PM; Sat 6 PM–9:30 PM; Sun 5:30 PM–9 PM
Closed Monday and Tuesday

price range

$9.50 (baby green salad) to $38 (grilled prime Black Angus rib eye steak)