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estherschindler

A weekend in Pasadena

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Phoenix has gotten hot. So I've booked us a weekend getaway trip in mid-August. We'll be staying in Pasadena and doing artsy things like touring the Gamble House.

I purposely chose a cheap hotel, so I could justify one blowout meal. Mostly, though, we lean towards your basic cheap eats -- especially ethnic. For instance, when I was last in Pasadena a few years ago, we really enjoyed a Thai restaurant next door to the model railroad store. Your basic good Thai, priced for mere mortals.

Any recommendations? For either a fancy meal or general good stuff within a short drive? We will have a car, and we're flying into Burbank, but I'm sure we won't want to drive far.

I did find a link to the dumpling restaurant, in an earlier eGullet message; that sounds wonderful.

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Definitely go to Din Tai Fung. It's hard to find Shanghai dumpling done that way anywhere else. Lots of other options for Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley. Might want to try Dim Sum at Ocean Star or 888 Seafood on Sunday morning.

El Portal or Yahairas on Colorado Blvd.

In Old Town Pasadena, there's Yujean Kang, Azeen's (Afghani), Kansai, Cafe Atlantic (Cuban) off the top of my head.

Downtown LA - try Daikokuya in Little Tokyo or Langer's for a pastrami sandwich (possibly the best in the USA).

I'm not completely sure all of these places are open on the weekends.


Edited by johnnycab (log)

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Phoenix has gotten hot. So I've booked us a weekend getaway trip in mid-August. We'll be staying in Pasadena and doing artsy things like touring the Gamble House.

Good for you. As for artsy things, there's also Norton Simon Museum and the Huntington Library. The King Tut exhibit is here in Los Angeles. I'll try and find a link to that.

I purposely chose a cheap hotel, so I could justify one blowout meal. Mostly, though, we lean towards your basic cheap eats -- especially ethnic. For instance, when I was last in Pasadena a few years ago, we really enjoyed a Thai restaurant next door to the model railroad store. Your basic good Thai, priced for mere mortals.

For a $3 day pass, you can ride the Metro Gold Line from Pasadena to downtown LA. Downtown LA is changing ... for the better ...

Any recommendations? For either a fancy meal or general good stuff within a short drive? We will have a car, and we're flying into Burbank, but I'm sure we won't want to drive far.

You are wise to fly into Burbank. The dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia (east of Pasadena) are very good and very fresh. I'm more familiar with the traditional Cantonese-style dim sum that you can find in downtown LA.

As for Pasadena itself, there are many restaurants along Colorado Blvd. in Old Town, a lot of chains, a lot of SABS (See And Be Seen). The food at Roscoe's on Lake Ave. in Pasadena is pretty good. I usually go for Scoe's #1. The ambiance is a bit ... suburban, which is all right. Mind you, the atmosphere at Roscoe's on Gower in Hollywood is completely different, especially with the bouncer outside the door ...

Personally, I haven't eaten at that many places in Pasadena. Even though communities in the LA area are sort of spread out, there are many culinary possibilities nearby Pasadena, like Raffi & Zankou Chicken in Glendale, Osteria Nonni in Atwater Village, Cafe Beaujolais & Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock, and Shiro in South Pasadena, just to name a few. If you want, I can do some quick research on Pasadena for you. :biggrin:

If I come up with more ideas, I'll let you know.


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Have lunch at The Calfornia School of Culinary Arts. There is a cafe with student cooks and the prices are very reasonable. Let me know if you're coming and I'll come by to say hello (if you want).


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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These are all wonderful. Thank you!

Chefzadi, is the School open for lunch?

Yes and lunch is really the best time to come.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Also - I think Roscoe's is kind of overrated. It's OK. The chicken is pretty dry, even with the gravy. The waffles are served with cheap corn syrup.

You might want to check out M&M's Soul Food on Washington Blvd as an alternative.

Near M&M's is Restaurante Salvadorena (cheap Salvadorean food) and Lebanese Kitchen:

http://www.laweekly.com/ink/99/30/counter-gold.php

Tropical Caribbean on Lake near California Blvd is highly recommended.

(BTW - the last couple times I've been to the School Cafe, I found myself still pretty hungry afterwards. The food's pretty good though.)


Edited by johnnycab (log)

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I lived in Pasadena for my first 18 years and returned for the last 8. If you are looking for one absolutely outstanding meal, I highly recommend Trattoria Tre Venezie. I have eaten there probably 10-12 times, and can confidently call it my favorite Italian restaurant not in Italy. It is very fancy, refined food from a comparatively obscure region of Italy -- nothing pizza/red sauce about it. It is also BY FAR the most "serious" restaurant in Pasadena -- easily 1-star Michelin quality, probably closer to 2. If you are not in the mood for Italian, I'd probably choose Bistro 45, but it is a considerable step down from the gold to the silver medal.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this -- it got a sparkling review in the LA Times about 12-18 months ago.

A word of warning: Tre Venezie can get expensive. And their wine list, while downright pornographic, is especially pricey.

Another recommendation is lunch at Nonya, which is insanely inexpensive for what you get. I think a 2 course lunch is $10?!?!?! This is a must for lunch -- the food is Indonesian/Malaysian/Chinese and the room is downright soothing in a Zen-like way.

As for others recommendations, Din Tai Fung is really fun and worth a trip. I'll second (or third or fourth?) that excellent recommendation. Their soup dumplings are in a class by themselves. Casa Bianca is excellent for pizza/red sauce, but expect to wait for a table. I would assiduously avoid Cafe Beaujolais and the culinary school restaurant. I've been to both twice and had four absolutely terrible meals.

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I just received this menu via e-mail.

"SUMMER 2005 at Bistro K

1st Course

Grilled Eel and Artichoke Tart “Feuillete”, Served with a Basil Tomato and Lime Granite $9.00

Violet Flavored Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Toast $13.95

Torchon of Sonoma Duck Foie Gras, Served with Boston Lettuce and Toast $13.95

Scrambled Eggs Served In the Shell, Topped with Vodka Cream and American Sevruga Caviar $14.50

Steamed Black Mussels with Lime, Ginger, Curry and Coconut Milk$7.95

Escargots Simmer in a Guajillo, Roasted Garlic Cloves, Serrano, Cilantro Jus Served with Asparagus, Nopalitos and Tortilla Crisp $8.25

Cassolette of Artichoke Confit with Basil and California Goat Cheese $8.95

Smoked Herring and Broccoli Parmentier, a Wasabi Infusion to Compliment $9.95

Sautéed Duck Foie Gras, Lightly Smoked Eel, Caramelized Green Apples and a Splash of Xeres Vinegar $13.95

Haricot Vert Salad, Grilled Smoked Duck Breast and Prosciutto Ham, Cardamom and Mango Vinaigrette, Top with a Sautéed Quail Egg $10.95

Corn Mousse Nutmeg Scented “Profiterolle”, Served with a Crayfish Coulis $9.00

Blue Crab and Avocado Ravioli, Enhanced with Lime Zest, Chives, “fleur de Sel” and Truffle Oil $9.95

Fish

Sautéed New Zealand Red Mullet, Haricot Vert and Japanese Seaweed Salad Tossed in a Sesame Oil and Liquorice Vinaigrette $16.95

Pacific Sea Scallops, Truffle Shavings, Asparagus, Fava Beans in a Grilled Pistachio Oil Emulsion and Bergamot $18.95

Mexican Bouillabaisse to Include Monk Fish, Scallops, Blue Shrimp, Passila Peppers, Blood Sausage, in a light Menudo with Hominy Chipotle infusion $19.95

Atlantic Skate Wing, Roasted on the Bone Served with Summer Baby White Onions in a Garlic Chili Nage with Longaniza and Coriander $15.50

Meat and Fowl

Veal Sweetbreads Rissole, Leeks Marmalade, Little Potatoes and Truffle Shavings “Jus”. $15.95

Sautéed Caramelized Veal Liver with Lavender Honey and Pine nuts, Homemade Tomato Confit and Purslane $14.95

Roasted “Pintade Hen”, Xeres Vinegar, Grilled Passilla Peppers, Black Mission Figs in a Light Chocolate Mole Scented with Bergamot Essence $18.50

Duck Breast served with Confit Shallots, Sautéed Salsify and A lime Confit Infusion Served with Young Summer Lettuces $18.50

Slow Cooked Suckling Pig, Served with “Ratatouille”, a side of Polenta and a Sage ‘Jus” $16.95

Roasted Squab, California Dates, Dry Cherries, Pistachio Quesadilla Served In a light Cumin Infusion and Sautéed Duck Sonoma Foie Gras $22.95

Rabbit “Fajita Style” served in a Tajine. Salsa Terrine, Avocado Charlotte and Flour Tortillas to Compliment. $15.95

Lamb “Noisette” Served with Braised Lamb Trotters, Arborio Rice with Sweet Corn. Grilled Pistachio and Curcuma Oil Emulsion To compliment. $22.50

Grilled Hanger Steak, Natural Jus, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes $17.75

From the Garden

Small/Large

Bistro K house Salad $5.50

Soup of The Day $5.50

Artichoke Confit with Basil and California Goat Cheese $8.95/12.95

Heart of Romaine, Caesar Dressing, Asiago Cheese $5.25/12.95

Penne Regate, Pesto, Parmesan, Tomatoes and Garlic Confit $6.95/13.00

BISTRO K PRE-THEATER DINNER 5.30 PM TO 7.00 PM ASK YOUR SERVER FOR TODAY’S SELECTION $26.00 PER PERSON

DEGUSTATION MENU 5 COURSES INCLUDING DESSERT (THE ENTIRE TABLE)

ASK YOUR WAIT PERSON $50.00 PER PERSON

To ensure freshness, taste and a great experience all dishes are cooked to order. Depending on the techniques that we use, some recipes are more complicated than others requiring a longer cooking and preparation time. From our minced herbs to our Infusions, everything is prepared at the time the order is placed.

Our Mission is to Provide Quality with Delicious, Nutritious Food, and Outstanding Customer Service to the Most Discriminating Client

We Accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex

We will add 18% Service Charge on parties of 6 or more

Minimum charge of $20.00 per person"

The restaurant is pretty small and cramped, but the prices and food are great, and there is NO CORKAGE. Mission Wines is literally around the corner.

For more upscale dining, consider the Ritz Carlton. Let chef Craig Strong put together a tasting menu for you (about $85). The outside patio is a great place for a summer evening dinner.

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For more upscale dining, consider the Ritz Carlton.  Let chef Craig Strong put together a tasting menu for you (about $85).  The outside patio is a great place for a summer evening dinner.

I have eaten there several times and know Craig well. He is a great chef and the food is amazing.

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For more upscale dining, consider the Ritz Carlton.  Let chef Craig Strong put together a tasting menu for you (about $85).  The outside patio is a great place for a summer evening dinner.

I have eaten there several times and know Craig well. He is a great chef and the food is amazing.

I concur. This is an excellent recommendation that skipped my mind earlier. It is not outrageously expensive compared to other Ritz-Carlton properties and the quality is almost surprisingly high.

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I also recommend Din Thai Fung. Order anything with pork or shrimp and you are guaranteed to love it.. And I really recommend ordering "the appetizer".

I

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It is not outrageously expensive compared to other Ritz-Carlton properties and the quality is almost surprisingly high.

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Hi, honey, I'm home!

Thanks to everybody for the recommendations. Because of scheduling and such, we didn't take all the advice, but I'm sure grateful for the suggestions we adopted.

At the top of the list is Din Tai Fung. I wasn't quite sure about it at first; we got to the restaurant early, at 10am Sunday morning, and there was already a line in front. This caused us to look at one another and say, "Oh no, is it the Chinese equivalent of Cheesecake Factory?" (Where you wait for an unreasonably long time for food that's merely good.) I'm glad we prevailed, because it was a truly wonderful meal. Since we got there early, we had the weekend-only soup dumplings... Din Tai Fung is definitely worth a trip back.

We also had breakfast on Saturday at Pie 'n' Burger. That was quite a wait, too, but frankly it was only okay. I can imagine, though, how fond I'd become of it if I grew up nearby. Or perhaps it'd be better for lunch -- the pies looked mighty attractive.

Our other meals included Thai at Tampopo (well, it was something like that), partly because it was right next to our hotel, and we were too tired to go anyplace. It's solidly good Thai, somewhat different style than we get here in Phoenix, but I wouldn't make it an intentional destination. We also had a late dinner on Saturday at Cameron's Seafood, also because it was within walking distance; everything was excellent, but not in a "wow, you have to try their specialty!" way.

We spent Saturday at the Huntington Library and Gardens -- what a lovely place! -- and, despite the fact that my guidebook said reservations were essential for the teahouse, walked right in. The food, service, everything about that place transports you to another time, when the choice between cucumber sandwiches and salmon-and-cream cheese sandwiches is the hardest decision you'll make all day. That was a really lovely stop; I'd go there again.

Our "excuse" for picking Pasadena as our getaway destination was to visit the Gamble House. (We're decorating and fixing-up our style in Arts & Crafts.) That, too, exceeded expectations. And I came home with $200 in books, which certainly doesn't surprise me in the least.

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Sorry to hear of the disappointing Pie 'n' Burger trip. I've actually never eaten there for breakfast, and always stick with a burger and a slice of pie for lunch or dinner.


Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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Sorry to hear of the disappointing Pie 'n' Burger trip. I've actually never eaten there for breakfast, and always stick with a burger and a slice of pie for lunch or dinner.

Oh, it wasn't disappointing, exactly. Just not quite as special as I'd hoped. :-)

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