Feb 2018

Ichima Sushi – Pasadena

Ichima - Pasadena

Sometime last year, before L.A. Weekly became shady AF, I read an article in its online pages about an under-the-radar sushi spot in Pasadena. In the post “Pasadena’s Best Restaurants, According to Salazar’s Chef,” Chef Jonathan Aviles shared that the restaurant had “a little small and outdated interior, but once you sit down and start to take it all in, you’re in for a treat.” I instantly bookmarked the spot.

My mind must’ve been mush at that very moment because instead of bookmarking Gin Sushi on Colorado Boulevard, the Chef’s recommended spot, I bookmarked Ichima Sushi in Hastings Ranch. Doh.

Ichima - Pasadena

Which brings me to Ichima, a fluorescent-lit beacon of unremarkable sushi settled in an East Pasadena strip mall. When The Astronomer and I stopped in for a late weeknight dinner in December, the restaurant was so busy that we waited 20 minutes for a table. Chef-driven hype or not, Ichima is definitely loved by its regulars.

To start, a bowl each of hot miso soup that was standard and satisfying.

Ichima - Pasadena

The Astronomer and I shared a variety of a la carte nigiri, as well as “Sushi Combo C” ($16.50). The pre-set platter included pieces of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, crab, albacore, shrimp, octopus, tamago, and eel sushi, plus a spicy tuna roll.

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Jan 2018

Cassia – Los Angeles (Santa Monica)

Cassia – Santa Monica

It shouldn’t have taken me this long to dine at Cassia considering my enthusiasm for Vietnamese foodways and Chef Bryant Ng’s talent, but alas, here we are two-plus years post-opening and I’m just getting to it.

Inspired by the restaurant’s recent appearance on KCET’s Migrant Kitchen, I gathered a group of my favorite girls (Diep, Tien, and Minh) for a lovely weeknight dinner.

Cassia – Santa Monica

Cassia, which is named after the Vietnamese cinnamon tree, opened in the summer of 2015. Previously, Chef Ng owned and operated the now-closed Spice Table in Little Tokyo (see: lunch, brunch, dinner).

Cassia – Santa Monica

We left the ordering up to Diep—she has the meanest palate around and this was her second visit to the restaurant. She selected a parade of dishes—a bit of this and a bit of that from each of the menu’s various sections.

From the “Chilled Seafood Bar,” we delighted in the Vietnamese “Sunbathing” Prawns ($24), head- and tail-on shrimp brushed in a spicy sauce that stained our fingers.

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Jan 2018

Felix Trattoria – Venice

Felix Felix Trattoria - Venice - Los Angeles

I ate a lot of Italian food in 2017. With Los Angeles experiencing a “Modern Italian Dining Renaissance” and my personal passion for pasta, dining out last year usually meant checking out the city’s latest and greatest Italian openings.

Of the slew of new Italian eateries that I visited (see: Cosa Buona, Rossoblu, Posto Giusto), Chef Evan Funke’s Felix Trattoria was a definite favorite. It’s hard to resist Venice’s cool vibes and a chef who openly touts #fuckyourpastamachine. I’d call that an unbeatable combination.

Felix Felix Trattoria - Venice - Los Angeles

Last-minute reservations are hard to come by here, especially since the restaurant was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater and “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire. However, seats at the bar are available on a first come, first served basis. My two dining mates and I snagged a trio of seats at the bar quite easily early on a Friday evening.

Felix Felix Trattoria - Venice - Los Angeles

The first bite to arrive was the Sicilian sfincione (focaccia), poofed to the nines, slicked with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary. Homemade bread, served fresh out of the oven, has got to be one of life’s most simple and delectable pleasures.

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