A recommendation from my friend Anne brought me to Pasadena’s Sushi Ichi. Located on the Arroyo Parkway directly across the street from the first-ever Trader Joe’s, this unassuming sushi spot makes it possible to enjoy really fine fishes without having to travel to Little Tokyo or the Westside. Pasadenians, rejoice!
For my first meal at Sushi Ichi, my friend Lien and I opted to experience the omakase. We reserved two seats at the bar for the occasion.
Chef Ichi is a one-man show, which can either lead to a wonderfully intimate experience or be a big ‘ol burden depending on when you visit. On weeknights when the restaurant isn’t too busy, fishes are quick to arrive at the table and conversation with the chef is encouraged. However, on busy nights like Fridays and Saturdays, service can be markedly slower. Plan your visit wisely, and reservations are encouraged.
My dinner at Sushi Ichi marked a turning point in my sushi eating career. It was solidified during the meal that I am a fan of neither shiso nor wasabi on my fishes, and that I really should steer clear of endangered fruits of the sea like bluefin tuna and eel, too. These sentiments have been building over the years, but something about tonight made it all crystal clear. Future omakases will be better for this moment of clarity.
Now, onto the goods…
Continue reading ‘Sushi Ichi – Pasadena’
If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably emailing or texting your friends at this very moment to firm up weekend brunching plans. If you haven’t yet figured out the “where” variable in your dining equation, allow me to make the case for Venice’s Sunny Spot.
After a winter-long hiatus, Chef Roy Choi is reintroducing brunch in brilliant fashion. He’s jammed the new menu with big, bold flavors, as well as portions large enough to share—hallmarks of his style of cooking and feeding.
Natural light pours into Sunny Spot’s main dining room and patio, while rap music, particularly of the West Coast variety, blares from the speakers. This space was made for hosting laid back daytime fetes.
Continue reading ‘Weekend Brunch at Sunny Spot – Los Angeles (Venice)’
The residents of Beachwood Canyon are incredibly lucky to have a place like Beachwood Cafe to drop into for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The space couldn’t be any more adorable, while the cooking is thoughtful and satisfying.
Owner Patti Peck took over the former Village Coffee Shop last March and, along with Chef Minh Phan, converted the one-time greasy spoon into a cozy neighborhood spot serving farm-to-table fare. The Astronomer and I, along with a gaggle of girlfriends, dined at Beachwood Cafe on an uncharacteristically rainy Friday night. The damp weather demanded just the sort of hearty fare that Chef Minh executes superbly well.
Previously, Chef Minh (left) attended Le Cordon Bleu, served as the Pastry Chef at Axe in Venice, and spent time in the kitchens of Gotham Tavern in Portland and the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. That’s our friend-in-common Diep Tran on the right.
To start, we sipped sparking wine cocktails accented with pink peppercorns and star anise.
Continue reading ‘Beachwood Cafe – Los Angeles (Hollywood)’
If you’re not tuning in to It’s lunchtime with Jonathan Gold every Wednesday at noon on the L.A. Times’ Daily Dish, then you’re missing out on excellent dialogue about the Los Angeles restaurant scene. During one such “live discussion” a few months back, the merits of a new Downtown eatery called Maccheroni Republic were brought up. I had never heard of the restaurant beforehand, but after registering the words “handmade pasta” and “reasonable prices,” I immediately made plans to check it out. I live for noodles.
Jean Louis DeMori and Antonio Tomassi, the two men behind Maccheroni Republic, opened an Italian restaurant called Locanda Veneta nearly 25 years ago. According to the Times’ food editor Russ Parsons, ” it kicked off the first round of terrific, small, very specific Italian restaurants in Southern California.” Maccheroni Republic is their second venture together.
The menu here is brilliantly simple: just a few appetizers, soups, and a slew of pastas. Between The Astronomer, Diep, and I, we shared two starters and three mains and left pleasantly stuffed.
The first appetizer to arrive was the Nduja ($6.95), a house-made Calabrese salami spread served with toasted crostini. We liked the spicy spread very much, but the bread left a lot to be desired. Little bothers me more than being served unspectacular bread at an otherwise solid restaurant. Continue reading ‘Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
Have you ever woken up with a killer craving for dumplings? I swear this happens to me every other weekend, and thankfully, I live minutes away from the best dumplings around. Though not particularly known for its dining options, Pasadena is the gateway to Chinese food heaven. I’d snag a summer home here if I were you.
To satisfy the beast this Sunday morning, The Astronomer and I passed over our beloved haunts (Mama’s Lu, Dean Sin World, Din Tai Fung, etc.) and headed to Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House. This newish spot in town came recommended by Louise and Jonathan—two very trusty bellies.
We were seated straightaway and treated to a dish of kimchi. Mostly sweet and a little spicy, the fermented cabbage offered a fine diversion as we perused the menu and placed our orders.
Continue reading ‘Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House – San Gabriel’