Triangle Trip

Tag: pasadena restaurant

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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Pasadena Restaurant Review: Maikobe redux

by on Mar.27, 2009, under Business Meals, Vacation

Captain G and Statusmonger made a follow up visit to Maikobe in Pasadena over the weekend. We noticed Maikobe had changed the format of its menu since our last visit from a month ago. The new menu is now simplified. Instead of a booklet type menu, it is on a laminated two sided sheet of plastic. Given the price on the menu, we think the new menu format devalues the Maikobe brand.

We also noticed the “Trust Me” meal was removed from the new menu. We wanted to try the “Trust Me” Omakase when we first visited Maikobe but didn’t really trust the chef at that point. We asked the manager, who was very attentive to us that evening, about the “Trust Me” menu and he promptly offered us to meet Chef Kengo, whose resume includes Masa in New York.

Chef Kengo greeted us and offered three “Trust Me” Omakase meals: $45, $55 and $75. Chef Kengo said $45 is the low end menu where you will get normal salad and rolls vs $55 and $75 where you will get a seafood salad and sashimi. There was also a sake pairing for $50 but we opted to just ask Chef Kengo for a sake recommendation.

Statusmonger and Captain G took the $55 which was extremely filling. We had seafood salad, top sirloin filet as well as the awesome Chilean seabass. Dessert was really delicious as well. Captain G opted for the Bavarian Cake which is a flan like cake with red beans. Statusmonger took the tofu cheesecake which was amazing.

We have dined at many Pasadena restaurants over the past four months and found Maikobe to be on the top end of the places we have visited. However, the Maikobe Omakase cannot be compared to Geisha House’s Omakase. Regardless, we believe Maikobe is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Pasadena — although there isn’t much competition. We will need to return for the Maikobe Tappanyaki next time.

Here’s a link to our previous post with other Pasadena restaurant reviews.

Statusmonger + Captain G

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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…

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