Triangle Trip

Tag: where to eat in pasadena

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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Where to eat in Pasadena: 15 Restaurant Reviews

by on Mar.08, 2009, under Business Meals, Vacation

Big A, Captain G, and Statusmonger are frequent travelers to Pasadena, CA. Below are our candid reviews of all the places we have dined in Pasadena for the past three months — from mid-December 2008 to early March 2009. We feel that Pasadena is a bit overrated when it comes to dining and shopping. There are many restaurants in Pasadena, but none has stood out.

Captain G is quite disappointed at the choices, especially with Maison Akira which some people tout it as one of the best in the Greater LA area. Arroyo Chop House is by far our favorite. We celebrated Statusmonger’s birthday there. Big A is a nicer rater, but agrees with the rankings below.  He recommends Arroyo and Mi Piace for newcomers to Pasadena.

Below are our 15 restaurants we have dined at and their rankings (best to worst):

1.  Arroyo Chop House – The only restaurant in California that only serves USDA Prime beef and nothing more. Service was excellent. Great wide selection coupled with a wide variety of side dishes. Lobster mash potatoes side is a must!

2.  Ruth’s Chris – A consistent steakhouse, we have been here multiple times. It was the best dineLA 2009 experience we had in California.

3.  Mi Piace – An Italian restaurant and bakery. It has great seafood pasta and excellent selection of desserts to compliment your dinner. It has outside sitting and offers a wonderful experience of Old Town Pasadena.

4.  MaiKobe – A new restaurant on Fairoaks between Colorado and Green Street. It is so new that it didn’t have a review on Yelp yet. Servings were good portions. Despite having “Kobe” as its restaurant name, its Kobe beef was not good. Perhaps we should not have ordered a Kobe roll as Kobe beef should not have been rolled with rice. Dessert was excellent though. They also serve Hibachi style dinners.

5.  Bar Celona – A Spanish tapas joint on Colorado. The stuffed quail is a must. Paellas and mussels are also good options. The sangria was not too good though. Wine selection was a bit limited. Overall the restaurant had good ambiance. Music also went well with the food.

6.  Houston’s – Consistent American style restaurant with good service and atmosphere. It has the best French Dip sandwich and Ribs platter we have ever had… Houston’s even serves sushi now. Wine and beer selections are great.

7.  Roy’s – It’s a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. We were seated in an extension of the restaurant which resulted in poor service. The room was also cold. Food was so-so. We had better meat and fish at Houston’s.

8.  Louise’s – Italian restaurant right across the street from Mi Piace. Menu is a bit less expensive compared to Mi Piace but the food is not too bad. You get what you pay for. Parking is a bit hard to find though.

9.  Cheesecake Factory – Very typical and just like the other Cheesecake chains. The restaurant met expectations. However, it is always crowded so we don’t think it’s worth the wait.

10.  Sushi of Naples – Surpringly good sushi and udon place. We had fresh fish over Super Bowl weekend at Sushi Naples. It is however located a bit out of the way – away from Old Town.

11.  Saigon Noodles – Despite the fact that it looks ghetto outside but the soup was authentic. Pricing was also right. Portion was decent. Can’t complain when you want some authentic Vietnamese at a decent price.

12.  Green Street Tavern – From the outside, this restaurant looked elegant. Service was so so even though it was not crowded on a Tuesday night. We had wine and the tasting menu (tapas like dishes) that evening to try out all the entrees. The only thing worth trying was the short ribs. Wine menu was not good either.

13.  Gyu-Kaku – A Japanese BBQ joint. Service was slow. Beef and other meat were marinated with too much salt which made us drank more Sake… Sake selection was good. Don’t fall into the all you can eat trap. Overall, the price was too high compared to the quality of food we got that evening.

14.  1810 – An Argentinian restaurant located on Colorado – in the heart of Old Town, Pasadena. We thought it was a real Argentinian restaurant but it was more or less a lounge/bar food type restaurant. Food was horrible. We had chewy steak, bad wine and horrible valet service. The valet attendant wanted us to pre-pay for parking because he was leaving his shift. The only thing that kept this restaurant out of the bottom was how bad Maison Akira was back in January.

15.  Maison Akira – A French/Japanese fusion place which was neither Japanese nor French. We’d a prix fixe menu back in February 2009 and it was the worst meal in a decade for Captain G. You can find out the details on his previous post.

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