Tokyo Shabu Shabu – Lake Avenue Pasadena

shabuveggies  shaburibeye  shabusauces

The old Shaab on Raymond used to my staple go-to for Shabu Shabu. I haven’t tried it since it changed owners and it’s name over to Osawa Shabu Shabu. So, because I had to start from scratch I decided to check out a new place and came across Tokyo Shabu Shabu over on South Lake, and I’m so glad I did!

If you’ve ever been to Shanghai or Tokyo, you’ll instantly recognize the feel and vibe, with flat screen TVs, modern-sleek tables and chairs, a large late night crowd and trendy chic affordable eats.

We opted for the traditional Rib Eye Shabu. I was really impressed by the cleanliness of the restaurant and the freshness of the ingredients. Also impressive, was the open kitchen allowing for you to watch the large slab of meat freshly sliced and brought over to you. Everything was prepared in open sight which makes me feel like they are proud and confident of their clean and fresh operation.

The restaurant is unique because they have an extensive menu for different broth options. Where most Shabu places have plain or spicy broth options only, Tokyo Shabu Shabu had a variety of about 10 broths ranging from a Thai Tum Yong, spicy curry, french opinion, and spicy pork (shown bel0w). Definitely more options to perfectly customize your cravings!

shabushabu

We showed up to dine during late night Happy Hour , which runs after 9pm daily. Shabu is about $2-3 cheaper during happy hour, and there’s a few bargain priced appetizers as well.

I’d definitley give the place two thumbs up. With a solid 4 starts on Yelp, others agree too.

Check them out on Yelp.

345 S Lake Ave, Ste 101
Pasadena, CA 91101
Neighborhood: Pasadena

(626) 844-7355

Pita Jungle – Old Town Pasadena

pitajungleoldtown

Pita Jungle is on my personal list of ‘Best Values” in Pasadena. They serve you fresh, delicious Mediterranean eats at incredibly reasonable prices. Happy hour is offered every day, even weekends, from 3-6pm and 9pm to close. Draft beers and house wines are $3 and well cocktails and margaritas are $4. They have a happy hour food menu as well with small tapas, but my opinion is that the main courses from the regular menu are a better value and more filling. I do however, always start with a $2.00 order of Dolmades when I’m there during happy hour. The order is 2 pieces, cut in half, and it’s a great starter to get your tastes buds going.

pitajungledolma

[$2 Happy Hour Dolmades, 2 pieces cut in half]

My personal favorite for an entree is the Turkey Pesto Wrap (but I substitute chicken breast for turkey). The wrap is huge, enough for 2 people to share, has a very generous portion of fresh grilled chicken breast, Swiss cheese, pesto sauce, grilled tomatoes and onions, is wrapped in Lavosh bread and served with a side Greek salad. It’s perfectly delicious as is, but I like to add a little Sriracha sauce mixed with Greek dressing for an extra kick.

pitajunglewrap

[Chicken Pesto Wrap $9.99]

Not quite sure why this place has a 3.5 star rating on Yelp, if I was rating I’d give 5 stars. The value is incredible, ingredients are fresh as can be, and service is friendly and swift. Maybe people just haven’t tried the right menu items. Try my order and see if you agree!

43 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
Neighborhood: Pasadena

(626) 432-7482

Check them out on Yelp.

 

 

 

El Chavo Taco Stop – Pasadena’s BEST Taco Truck!

elchavotacos

El Chavo Tacto Stop is your best bet for a late night eat in Pasadena! There are a few taco trucks to choose from — but El Chavo beats them all! If you’ve been a fan for a while, you’ll know that they were located in the parking lot on the corner of Fair Oaks and Holly for a while, but for about the last year they’ve relocated to the parking lot at the Chase Bank located on Arroyo and Colorado.

The truck is run by a lovely husband and wife who surely know how to make some good Mexican eats! If you’re a fan of Pastor (spicy pork), these are some of the best pastor tacos I’ve ever had. Their Carne Asada is also quite good, as is the Lengua (tongue), for those of you who are adventurous enough to try it. Just tell yourself it’s chicken and give it a try. The Pastor quesadilla is also really good; full of cheese and spicy pork!

El Chavo is a very affordable eat – tacos run $1.25 each, setting the average eater at just under five bucks for a nice late night treat.

elchavomenu        elchavotruck

Chase Bank Parking Lot
Arroyo Pkwy between Green St & Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103
Hours:Thu-Sat 9 pm – 3 am, Sun 9 pm – 2 am

(626) 421-9587

Check them out on Yelp.

Arroyo Chop House: One of LA’s Last Classic Steakhouses

Arroyo Chop House is the quintessential, classic, upscale, all American steak house. The Chop House opened in 1997, and has gained a very loyal following since then, sinking its roots deep within the city of Pasadena. I honestly think that this establishment is the best, if not one of the very best steakhouses in all of Southern California. The versatility of the restaurant is wonderful, whether you’re looking to have an important business dinner, a special occasion, or cocktails after work, Arroyo is the perfect place to do so. The dining room affords privacy in an intimate setting. If you’re looking to have a cocktail with some entertaining chatter you can always start out at the bar. The service of the staff is the best in Pasadena. Every single time I’ve dined here, the bartenders have been friendly, the kitchen immpecable, and the wait staff were helpful and spot on. I can’t think of enough great things to say about this Pasadena staple.

When I eat something I love, I become a creature of habit. The last 4-5 times I’ve dined at arroyo, my beau and I have ordered the same things. We start with a loaf of fresh bread, ordered half garlic and half plain ($5), and always order a dozen Hama Hama oysters (when in season, September-January, market price). Whoever is sourcing Arroyo with their oysters has the best damn oysters we’ve ever had — and we have had them all around the world. The oysters are the perfect texture, meaty, and have no sand whatsoever or any kind of unpleasant sea smell. Even in the fanciest of restaurants, we’ve frequently had these issues with raw oysters.

 

          

Next, we enjoy the Table Side Cesar Salad for two ($24). When your waiter rolls out his work station, you’ll see him make the entire salad table side; chopped romaine, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, home-made croutons, and a wonderful tangy Cesar dressing made from scratch right before your eyes. If you enjoy Cesar salads, this will be one of the best you’ve ever had.

After a bottle of champagne, fresh bread, oysters and our Cesar salad, we barely have any room to spare. But by this time we’ve already ordered the Porterhouse Steak ($48) to share. We opt to get the ‘regular’ Porterhouse, not the one for 2, it’s surely enough. The Chop House hand cuts their steaks fresh everyday, they are rubbed just perfect and cooked to perfection. I can’t emphasize enough how delicious the steaks are, if you haven’t already, you’lll have to see for yourself. You’re not going to get a steak soaked in butter and oozing on a buttery hot plate — I mean that in a good way. You’ll get a steak perfectly seasoned, juicy and broiled to perfection. You’ll probably even have enough left over, as we always do, for gourmet steak and eggs the next morning.

If you haven’t eaten here, do yourself a huge favor and do so. Whether it’s a special occasion or you’re just in the mood for an amazing steak — you won’t regret it.

Two thumbs up in every single way!

Check them out on Yelp.

536 South Arroyo Pkwy
Pasadena, CA 91105
Neighborhood: Pasadena

(626) 577-7463

 

 

Slater’s 50/50 – Extreme Overindulgence at It’s Best

Another visit to Slater’s 50/50 Pasadena. Tried a few different things, was reassured that entrees are enormous and very reasonably priced, and left pleading for the assistance of a fork lift. If you love huge portions, lots of piled on tasty ingredients and are even eating on a budget (or not) this is definitely a place to indulge.

This time around my beau and I decided to share a few new things. We started with the Slater’s Fries (served with BACON ketchup — yes it’s amazing), and shared The Old Timey Burger and the Chicken & Pancakes. It was probably enough food for four people, but we tackled it as best as we could with just the two of us.

SLATER’S FRIES

I’m not sure if this is the usual protocol, but the fries were brought out as an appetizer. They were fresh cut, and barely salted. Suprisingly, they weren’t greasy at all. The bacon ketchup was absolutley amazing, I had to ask for seconds. We also sprinkled some bacon salt on top of the fries, which made them extra tasty. If you haven’t picked it up yet, the theme of the whole 50/50 experience is bacon in every nook and cranny possible.

THE OLD TIMEY

The classic American burger with Sterling Silver ground beef, American cheese, thick cut bacon, grilled onions, green leaf lettuce, tomato and 1000 island dressing on white brioche. The Old Timey burger doesn’t have the traditional 50/50 (half ground bacon, half ground beef) patty. We opted for the all ground beef patty in an attempt to save a few hundred calories. The patty was equally huge and juicy and the toppings were real good.

FRIED CHICKEN & PANCAKES

Fried chicken topped with house-made-bacon-infused-country-gravy, two strips of thick cut bacon and a sunny side up egg sandwiched between three buttermilk pancakes, smothered in real maple syrup. The Fried Chicken and Waffles was …. HUGE. That’s the first thing that came to mind. We barely made a dent on one of the pancakes, but finished the chicken. The chicken is really juicy, and the dish was real good overall, just huge.

Once again, Slater’s proves to be fantastic. Ever since it opened up last month, every single night has drawn in huge crowds. The bar is full of TV’s for sports enthusiasts, and the restaurant is warm, fun and family friendly. There’s a place for everyone here. With the addition of 2 Diet Cokes, this bill came to only $35. I’d say that’s a bargain in Pasadena.

Check them out on Yelp. With 4 stars on almost 200 reviews, I’m sure there are plenty of others that agree with me.

61 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103
Neighborhood: Pasadena

(626) 765-9700

 

Umami Burger Old Town Pasadena

Umami Burger creator Adam Fleischman is at least partially responsible for a new burger concept that’s taking over Southern California. Excellent quality meats, gourmet toppings (think truffled cheese) and delicious variations of fries (thin, sweet potato, smushed, tempura onion rings).

Umami is a Japanese word describing the pleasant and savory taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides that occur naturally in foods.Umami as a taste is subtle but it blends with other tastes well to expand your experience while eating. The Pasadena location opened a few months ago, it’s right next to Intelligentsia and Pita Jungle. Two burgers, a couple drinks, and a side to share will run you over $50 at Umami Burger. Go here to indulge and devour tasty meats and cheeses and fried fantasies.

The art of creating a perfect Umami burger starts with the house-ground, hand- formed patty infused with the ‘Umami Master Sauce.’ Umami buns are definitely noteworthy; lightly toasted and slightly sweet, they smush down easy and melt in your mouth.  Even their  house-made sauces are delicious. Their ketchup doesn’t even taste ordinary – it has a special kick (which is a secret I couldn’t get them to tell).

     

(Umami Burger and Thin Fries Pictured Above)

Next time you’re in Old Pasadena, check out this hip, yet family friendly burger joint for some delicious and unique burgers.

Check them out on Yelp.

 

Slater’s 50/50 Opens in Old Town Pasadena

 

Slater’s 50/50, home to the very first 50% ground bacon, and 50% ground beef burger, opened its first L.A. location on November 23 to serve overly-indulgent custom craving burger fanatics their choice of custom crafted burgers alongside craft brews. Though this is a San Diego import with three existing locations, Slater’s was founded by Pasadena native Scott Slater, making it a personal homecoming celebration. Slater’s took the place of VIVE nightclub, spanning across a large corner lot sitting on Union and Raymond, just one block behind Coloradeo. Large windows open out to the street, allowing for a nice cool breeze on sunny Pasadena days. Flat screen TV’s cover the walls which make this a great place to catch your favorite game alongside some friends and family, while enjoying good food & cold beer.

Dishes include the infamous 50/50 Burger (half-bacon, half-bovine) and its variations, a garlic-rich “Vampire Dip,” buffalo chicken mac and cheese with a Cheez-It crust, fried chicken and pancakes, burgers stuffed with Fritos, beer cheese fries, bacon brownies, and even a salad corrupted by a bacon cheeseburger. Cocktails include the savory bacon Bloody Mary and bacon Old Fashioned, while little ones in training can enjoy maple bacon milkshakes. Slater’s is surely a place to overindulge, and a visit here should definitely be reserved for that “cheat day” – no calorie counting, no carb protesting, no passing on the fries. Go big, or go home!

Like them on Facebook, and check them out on Yelp, where they’re already getting rave reviews after only 1 week of being open!

Check out the menus here.

Slater’s 50/50, open 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 A.M. daily** at 61 North Raymond Ave. Pasadena; 626-765-9700.

POP Champagne Bar – Old Town Pasadena

   

POP Champagne & Dessert Bar is one of a kind! It’s sexy and swanky, but warm and intimate environment is welcoming to anyone. Whether you’re on a first date, going to happy hour, a passionate foodie, or catching a night out on the town, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable experience at this Pasadena gem.

Chef Ray Vasquez has been with POP since it’s opening in 2008. His personalized creations are unique and mouth-watering! He’s always using new ingredients and ideas to create an ever changing and exciting menu. He offers a different Souffle every single night of the month. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to look ahead and check out the Souffle calendar so you can plan your visit on the perfect night for your taste buds!

I’ve visited POP on multiple occasions, and as a self-proclaimed “foodie,” I’ve always been impressed with what I’ve ordered.

We dined at the bar last night, as we frequently do. We ordered a couple glasses of the wonderful Testarossa Chardonnay ($14 glass), an excellent recommendation by Nathaniel. We started with the soup du jour, the Chicken Tortilla. It was garnished with a baked tostada, queso cojita, onions and cilantro. I was so excited to dig in and try it that I forgot to take a photo! But, I assure you it was fantastic! For dinner entrees, we selected the Margarita Flatbread Pizza and the Trio of Sliders (pictured below). The pizza was perfectly panned out, crispy in all the right places, with a delectable balsamic reduction drizzled on top.

Margarita Flatbread Pizza $14: cherry heirloom tomatoes, basil, parmesan, marinara

Trio of Kobe Beef Sliders $19:

  1. Surf and Turf- Shrimp, Jack Cheese, Cocktail Sauce, poppy seed bun
  2. POP Burger- Garlic Aioli Mayo, Bacon, Port Salut Cheese, port wine reduction, on onion brioche
  3. “BBQ Burger- House Made BBQ, Bacon, Cheddar, Crispy onions, on sesame bun

Of course we saved room for the souffle of the day. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare, so you may want to order it when your entrees come out. I appreciate that the Vanilla Anglaise is a generous portion that will make it through the whole souffle! I don’t think we left a single crumb behind, it was amazing!

Cookies N Cream with Vanilla Anglaise $12

The moral of this story is: indulge yourself in this experience, you won’t find it anywhere else. POP’s extensive selection of champagnes, wines and artisanal beers (for those manly men that wont partake) will please everyone. Chef Ray and his team do an outstanding job of keeping the menu fresh and tasty, with a menu of delectable entrees, small plates, gourmet cheeses, caviar, charcuterie, and of course the house made desserts that will tantalize your taste buds.

If all the talk about amazing eats hasn’t convinced you to, perhaps you need to know about POP’s best kept secret, Speakeasy champagne Sundays. Every Sunday, from 5-10pm, look for the secret password on POP’s Facebook and Twitter page, and get deeply discounted bubbly all night long! You’ll even get live music, every Sunday starting at 7pm.

Check them out on Yelp.

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletan in Pasadena

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletan in Pasadena is as close to authentic as you’ll find outside of Italy. Their pizza dough, prepared in scorching wood fire oven (pictured above), is thin and tasty, with a perfectly blackened bubbly crispy crust. Ingredients are simple, and each flavor really stands out. Simplicity is the key to all their pizzas, but don’t mistaken this for plain. Fresh crushed tomatoes are the “sauce” to most pizzas, and basil and extra virgin olive oil are staple toppings.

We walked down on a Friday night and grabbed a couple empty seats at the bar counter. There were two of us and we shared the Insalata Grande (1/2 portion pictured below, they split it for us) and the Emilia pizza. Both were fantastic!

The Insalata Grande ($9.00)  is a perfect salad to share. The mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Kalamata olives and pine nuts make it a pleasantly hearty starter salad. It is a little light on dressing, and I felt it needed a little kick so I ordered side of cheese and extra dressing to make it come to life a little more for my taste.

We went with a curve ball for our pizza selection and ordered the Emilia pizza ($12.50). It’s a white pizza, with no traditional tomato base. The dough is smeared with Panna (Italian Cream), then topped with fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Regiano, Prosciutto Cotto, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza was simple, but full of flavor. I would definitely recommend the Emilia!

I can’t wait for my next visit, there are so many other things I’m excited to try, including their dessert pizza!

Check out Settebello Pizzeria Napoletan in Pasadena on Yelp.

625 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
Neighborhood: Pasadena

(626) 765-9550

Happy Hour at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Pasadena

Roy’s Aloha Hour (Happy Hour) definitely earned it’s place on our list of best Happy Hour’s in Pasadena. Offered nightly (even weekends) from 4:30-6:30pm, Aloha hour can be a perfect place to grab a few drinks, or even an early dinner at Happy Hour pricing. Everything on the menu, including cocktails are $5. If the bar area is full, which is how you usually find it, you can sit outside in the patio and will be allowed to order off the Happy Hour menu.

I had a Patron Skinny Margarita, and the Mr. had the Roy’s signature Chardonnay, both at only $5 during Happy Hour. After a refreshing cocktail, we ordered the Short Rib Tacos, Big Island Ebi Roll, Tempura Crusted Spicy Ahi Roll, Smoked Mahi Mahi Tac0s (not pictured). and finished with the Chocolate Souffle (Not on the happy hour menu, regular price of $10). The Short Rib Tacos were fantastic, I’d would certainly recommend them, as would I the Smoked Mahi Mahi Tacos. The sushi was okay, just nothing special. I felt the rolls were too heavy on rice and lacking fish and other goodies. The Wagu Beef Sliders were probably the best value; two juicy sliders and a heap of sweet potato fries. Roy’s Chocolate Souffle is the best in Pasadena, I’d definitely recommend finishing off with that! Even at $10, it’s a delectible treat!! Don’t forget to order a last round of cocktails before Aloha Hour ends at 6:30pm.

 

                

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion

Aloha Hour: EVERY NIGHT 4:30-6:30pm

(626) 356-4066

641 E. Colorado Blvd.

Pasadena, CA 91101

Check Roy’s out on Yelp.