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Where to eat in Pasadena (part 2): Restaurant Reviews

by on Jun.01, 2009, under Business Meals, Vacation

As a follow up to our previous Pasadena restaurant review post which ranked 15 restaurants, Statusmonger, Big A and Captain G have since visited a few more restaurants in Pasadena, CA. We found Pasadena restaurants are a bit overrated. Nonetheless, we feel obligated to share our experiences with our readers.

Below is a list of our experience and ranking.

1.  Langham Hotel Dining Room – The only restaurant inside a hotel in the greater LA area to have a Michelin star! Dining experience was worldclass and worth the price. Great wine selection and dessert. Located inside the Langham Hotel, the Dining Room is kind of hard to find as it’s in a residential neighborhood. There is another restaurant called “The Terrace” which does not have a Michelin star. Make sure you tell the reservation specialist that you want the “Dining Room” if you want to experience real fine dining.

2.  Sushi Roku – Japanese restaurant nested in between Colorado and Union (near the corner of Colorado & Fair Oaks) — near Crate and Barrel. Very trendy restaurant with lots of young people. Service was excellent. Great sake selection as well. It’s fusion Japanese so do not expect anything real authentic.

3.  Tani – Japanese restaurant on Colorado Blvd and Raymond. Tiny looking restaurant on the outside but Tani has a pretty sizeable patio area seating on the outside. Good food selection as restaurant offers both cooked and raw Japanese food. Poor sake selection.

4.  Malagueta – A Brazilian joint located on Colorado (down the block from 1812 but 20x better). Has wide selection of Latin American wines. Mostly meat dishes. Avoid if you want veggies.

5.  Trattoria Tre Venezie – Little snobby Italian restaurant with one Michelin star that opens Wednesday to Sunday. We do not think this restaurant is worthy of the Michelin star. Food was mediocre at best. We were there on a Wednesday and the restaurant was not crowded at all. Wine list were all from Italy. The bright spot is they have authentic Italian soda.

6.  Yard House – Usual chain, American beer place.  It is usually packed with younger college kids.

7.  City Thai – Typical Thai food, nothing special.

8.  Tokyo Wako – A pricey Teppanyaki steakhouse. The show was typical of a Teppanyaki place but the waiters/waitresses provided excellent service. Portions were huge. Sake was good. However you’re paying for $30+ for Teppanyaki.

9.  Cafe Santorini – Mediterranean food inside an alley near Colorado and Fairoaks (by Roku). This restaurant has great ambiance. The restaurant is actually located on the 2nd floor of a building with outside seating. Service was horrible. Waiter could not recommend any dish — all he said was “pick whatever you want.” Food was very salty. The bright spots are: large portions, good dessert and great fresh bread. Perhaps the portions and dessert is what drive people to come to this restaurant. We were at Cafe Santorini on a Monday night and it was packed.

10.  Mojito’s – Cuban place on Raymond. They served great Mojitos as the name suggested. Food was so so at best. It was not memorable so it’s at the bottom of our list. Menu items were not too expensive.

11.  Central Park – Located on South Fairoaks and across the street from Pasadena’s Central Park. It’s an American style restaurant with seafood and meat on the menu. Nothing special. Just an over-priced restaurant that serves typical diner food.

12.  JJ Steakhouse – Steakhouse on the 2nd floor of a shop on Colorado. JJ Steakhouse is probably the worst steakhouse in Pasadena. For the same price, you are better off at Arroyo’s or Ruth’s.

13.  Kansai – Small Japanese restaurant on Fairoaks near Colorado. Kansai has a huge variety of Japanese dishes on its menu – perhaps too much to choose from… Setting is kind of ghetto. Food is so so. We will probably not visit them again.

14.  Nepal Tibet House – Located on Holly Street which was kind of out of the way… The restaurant marketed itself as Himalayan food but it was actually more Indian food than anything. We were disappointed and the meal was pricey.

15.  Cafe Bizou – We attempted to go to this restaurant 3x but couldn’t experience it. The first time they were closed after 9PM. The second time we were seated by the host and sat for 15 minutes without service. Furthermore, the patrons that night were at least 65 and up – crowd was definitely not hip. We gave Cafe Bizou one more chance on a Monday evening and they were closed for Monday’s.

With this list and our previous post, we have evaluated 30 restaurants in Pasadena, California. I don’t think you will find a better place with a more candid review of each restaurant at a particular location.

Big A | Captain G | Statusmonger

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Why you should become a Morton’s VIP member

by on May.08, 2009, under Business Meals, Travel Partners

I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to be a frequent different steakhouses across the world. As a follow up to my post on Portland Steakhouse Review, I would like to share a little secret about Morton‘s with my readers. Morton’s has a VIP program that is invitation only.

As a Morton’s VIP member, you will receive the following benefits:

1.  No reservation required – Once you’re a Morton’s VIP member, just walk into any Morton’s with your VIP card and you will get the first available table.

2.  After dinner perks – You will receive complimentary after dinner dessert and drink. And at times you may get a small gift.

3.  Wine lock – Based on availability, Morton’s will store your wine collection in their famous cellars for you free of charge.

You should contact your local Morton’s General Manager or or Lifestyle Managers like Premium Lifestyle Group for more information.

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Portland Steakhouse Recommendations

by on May.03, 2009, under Business Meals

Portland, Oregon is known for its Pinot Noir, fancy restaurants – steakhouses in particular. Yes. Believe it or not, there are several great steakhouses in the Pacific Northwest where they are known for fish. During my time in Oregon, I had the opportunity to dine at some of the best steakhouses in Portand. Below is a review of the top 3 steakhouses in Portland:

1.  RingSide Steakhouse – Ringside is a family owned and operated restaurant with locations downtown and Glendoveer. The place is a bit west of the center of town. You will get great steak and a wide variety of meats at RingSide. RingSide also has special sauces to go with each steak. Be sure to get the steak with the peppercorn sauce. RingSide also offers a great selection of Portland Pinots and California Cabs. This is a great place to dine like a local!

2.  Jake’s Grill – Jake’s is part of McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant chain but it certainly does not feel like one when you are inside restaurant. Jake’s has the classic American grill look and feel with a very local Pacific Northwest atmosphere. Best dish at Jake’s is the shrimp cocktail appetizer. The jumbo shrimp is fresh and awesome. My personal favorite steak at Jake’s is the New York. Jake’s also offer a wide selection of scotches – they are so so when it comes to wine selection. You will also find nice cigars and see people smoking outside before 9PM. Portland allows smoking after 9PM.

3. El Gaucho – El Gaucho is a Pacific Northwest steakhouse with restaurants in Oregon and Washington. El Gaucho offers live Latin guitar as a part of your dining experience. In addition to the standard USDA steaks,  El Gaucho als offers “carved table side” and “flaming swords.” The “carved table side” is a selection of meats cut at your table. The “flaming swords” are kabobs which is also served at your table. El Gaucho also has a cigar room where you can dine and enjoy a fine cigar before, during and after dinner.

If you are not ready to try the local joints, go to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for a consistent steak. Portland’s Ruth’s did some experimentation with the menu when we were there. We did not like the experiments and the chef was very accommodating and still offer me my personal favorite: two petite filets with shrimp. It was a good experience overall.

Honorable Mentioned: Shula’s Steakhouse – which was located inside the Marriott on Broadway but recently closed. Shula’s was a great place to catch Monday Night Football. I was said to hear that they have closed down. I believe it’s a restaurant called Mez which is very lamed compared to Shula’s Steakhouse.

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