Triangle Trip

Worst meal in a decade: Maison Akira in Pasadena

by on Jan.28, 2009, under Business Meals

First, we do not like to blast restaurants. We prefer to be the ones making recommendations. This post is an extreme exception.

Captain G and his colleagues just had their worst meal in a decade. This includes business and non-business related meals. We just left Maison Akira with a $250 bill for 3 people. This was not only the worst meal we had in a decade; it is also the most expensive.

When we chose to dine at Maison Akira, we thought we were having Japanese food or at least Japanese fusion or French fusion. This place was neither Japanese nor French. Maison Akira is located in Pasadena. Not only did the restaurant didn’t have valet; the parking lot charged us for outside parking. How could a restaurant not have valet in SoCal? We should have seen this as a red flag before entering the restaurant.

This week is restaurant week (dineLA) with prix fixe menus in LA. Maison Akira had a $44 prix fixe menu. Since it’s Chinese New Year, $44 meal should be another red flag as the number 4 is bad luck in Chinese. Another red flag was the chef prepared complementary salad that contained two tiny shrimp and five day old vegetables.

The setting of the restaurant was old musty. We were seated right in front of the door/entrance. That was another red flag that this restaurant doesn’t have good service or Feng Shui for that matter. How could a classy restaurant have a table right in the middle of the road facing the entrance?

Today’s prix fixe menu had the following entrees:  duck, Kobe beef and tuna. The three of us selected the Kobe as it was the best option on the menu. We all had different appetizers, which happened to be the best course on the menu.

The Kobe beef was the worst steak we have ever had in a decade. An Outback steak would have been 5x better. Given the fact that we had Ruth’s Chris the night before for the same price, I really felt we got ripped off for this meal. For $44, Ruth gave us a tender 14-ounce filet + appetizers and dessert.

There were four slices of Kobe beef with sloppy mash potatoes that tasted like chalk. The Kobe beef were chewy and had lots of tendons, and tasted more like lamb than beef. I thought I was eating rack of lamb as opposed to tender Kobe – the way it is supposed to be served. For all we know, the Kobe could have been dog meat, as we have never had anything so bad in our experiences. The sauce for the Kobe was most likely prepared by some amateur chef, as it tasted really tangy.

I had the Crème Brulee for dessert which tasted like egg tart that has been aged for two weeks. The Crème Brulee was extremely dried and the strawberry was not fresh. Finally, the wine selection was extremely poor. We selected the Hafner from Alexander Valley and paid $80. Sadly to say, the wine was the best part of the meal. We felt like we’d paid $250 for the wine since the meal itself was a horrendous dining experience.

Yelp also lost all of its credibility. We read the Yelp reviews before deciding on the restaurant and saw 4.5 stars from 107 reviews. After tonight’s meal, all the raters on Yelp are clueless. Yelp should remove all the positive entries about this restaurant removed.

In summary, the price for tonight’s meal cost us an arm and a leg, and it tasted like we were eating our arms and legs. We noticed the chef is Japanese. We recommend he stick to Sushi or pure Japanese food as oppose to French/Japanese because it’s not working…

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 1.00 out of 5)

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7 comments for this entry:
  1. Pasadena Restaurant Review - Triangle Trip

    […] 2009 and it was the worst meal in a decade for Captain G. You can find out the details on his previous post. :1810, arroyo, bar celona, california, cheesecake, cheesecake factory, dinaLA, green street […]

  2. BreertRib

    now in my rss reader)))

  3. Elcorin

    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.


  4. Jinny

    Thanks for article. Everytime like to read you.


  5. Zoran

    Hello, – da best. Keep it going!


  6. Philip

    Just to let you know, DineLA restaurant week allows diners to experience restaurants at a budgeted price. If you would like to have the full experience that a restaurant has to offer, try not to dine on the cheap. Also, understand that DineLA is an event that not ALL restaurants participate in but those for who do, there will be more business than the usual week. Keep in mind that he did study under world-renowned Joel Robuchon and has an impressive resume (L’Orangerie, Ecole de Lenotre, Maxim’s in Paris, Georgian Room at the Ritz Carlton, and the Belvedere Restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel). When it comes to credibility, I’ll stick to Zagat, which rated the restaurant’s good a 27. Considering the highest in Los Angeles is 28, that does not match well with your review.

  7. admin


    If a restaurant cannot put its foot forward during DineLA restaurant week, it shouldn’t participate in the event. There is no need to offer a below average experience unless you are desperate.

    Studying under Joel Robuchon does not mean you can open The Mansion at MGM Grand. Just ask the Cleveland Browns fan with coaches: Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini – both won Super Bowls under Bill Belichick but couldn’t get more than 4 wins a season in Cleveland.

    Zagats is a poor man’s Michelin Guide. I don’t see any Michelin stars for Maison Akira. For a quality meal in Pasadena, I suggest you visit The Langham Hotel Dining Room.

    Captain G

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