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Best Fusion Restaurants in and around Pasadena

After looking at the Equator Cafes beautiful website I was prepared for great fusion dishes with a serene environment surrounded by Buddhas and the chic edginess their website promised. What I found when I arrived at Equator was a tattered, dingy version of the pics from the website with the ambiance of a grunge club. The food was hit and miss with most of it being a tragic 'miss', and almost all the food seems to be pre made frozen stuff that can be found at Costco. The menu is confusing and overly ambitious, dishes did not match menu descriptions, and servers seemed equally confused on what was in each dish. Service was good, but the kitchen seemed to have trouble getting the dishes out in any kind of reasonable time and I was one of only three tables. I did take a peek at the kitchen, very tiny, messy, but not near the disaster that the ladies room was in.

Is there good fusion cuisine in Pasadena?

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    1. re: Jack Flash

      Drats! What about close to Pasadena, maybe even DTLA?

    2. Equator began as a coffee house. So perhaps the kitchen was never expanded or roomy enough to serve a restaurant?
      The only fusiony thing that leaps to mind is Shiro in South Pas--a sort of Japanese-French fusion but I think it's best days have passed. ;(

      8 Replies
        1. re: Ernie

          Shiro sounds interesting, thanks!

          1. re: Ernie

            I'm in the like Shiro camp.

            It's kind of a sleepy south pass classic.

            order the chinese ravioli and some whole sizzling catfish and you are beyond good to go.

            damn, i wanna go now.

            which other hounds likes this joint ?????????

            1. re: kevin

              I love that combination too. Catfish is amazing and those raviolis so delicious

            2. re: Ernie

              Shiro's has excellent service and very reasonably priced cocktails. Their catfish is disappointing if you enjoy Chinois on Main's version. Spice Table in DTLA was my favorite fusion option that was close to Pasadena but it is now closed. Roy's is a good option and I think stronger than Shiro's, Abricott, and Daisy Mint but I rather drive into the west side for Lukshon or Chinois.

              1. re: foufou

                I find nothing disappointing about Shiro's catfish. It is quite delicious, crisp and very fresh. Chef Hideo Yamashiro is an old pro and has been delivering quality fusion dining since 1987

                Roy's is OK but it has a distinct corporate/chain vibe to it that I do not care for. While I have not had anything bad at a Roy's, I've never had anything truly amazing there either and portions tend to be small for the price

                I have not been to Abricott, but have heard a couple negative reviews from trustworthy sources and haven't been inclined to try it

                1. re: Ernie

                  I like Roy's and their happy hour is decent. I find the sauces used very sugary.

            3. re: mc michael

              That explains a lot! Next time I will bring my lap top and order a cappuccino, the one thing that I had that was really excellent, even though it took 30 minutes for them to make one little cappuccino in a relatively empty restaurant.

              Seriously though, as a coffee house it works, add some spirits to the coffee, and it would really work ;)

              1. re: chrishei

                Daisy Mint and Abricott, both run by the same guy. I don't know if "great" is the exact adjective, but we've had lots more hits than misses, and the misses have been predictable – vegetarian pho, anyone? Daisy Mint is too crowdy for my taste, too damn popular for the room size, but the food's good. Abricott is more laid-back, you order and pay at the counter and are given a number thingy to take to your table, and just about every entree can be made to fit one's dietary preferences. Just … avoid the veggie pho.

                Daisy Mint is on East Colorado a few blocks west of PCC; Abricott is on South Lake, between Cordova and Del Mar, with a back door facing the Shoppers' Lane parking lot – two hours free.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  We got a gift certificate to Abricott and went recently for dinner. This was my third time eating there or getting take out food. I have also been to Daisy Mint when it first opened, but because it is quite small and often crowded, have not been there for a while.

                  Abricott was a miss for us. We went close to 8 pm and the two wait persons were extremely busy - so we got minimal service.
                  We had an order of the sweet and salty fried wings - but this was close to the worst wings I have ever had. The wings were just fried - nicely crispy - but not sauced. There were two very ordinary sauces that came with it. Just dipping the wings which now had little incentive to pick up the sauce was a terrible taste experience. Unless you sauce the wings when they are just hot off the frying pan, I thinks defeats the whole purpose of blending the skin fat, meat, and a tingling sauce. Simply awful!

                  The mains were the pho - just so so - and the yellow curry chicken with potatoes and carrots. I recently made yellow curry at home using fresh turmeric root, galangal, garlic, kaffir lime etc. This is of course the Thai version, and I don't think there is a Vietnamese version. Abricott's yellow curry did not even come close to what I was able to make at home, or versions I have had at Thai restaurants in Pasadena and elsewhere.

                  It will be a while before I go back to Abricott.

                  1. re: suvro

                    I think
                    Abricott is a go for a leisurely lunch kind of place. Stretch out, try different things, have some conversation. Easy. Not a real dinner pick.

                2. re: chrishei

                  +1 on Daisy Mint. Never been to Shiro, but I did very much like Orris on Sawtelle.

                  1. The answer to your question is one of the following:

                    Daisy Mint

                    Go forth! Explore, enjoy.

                    1. Is maison akira still around ????

                      That's as fusiony as it gets.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: kevin

                        I think the question is also, is it any good? It wasn't impressive when I went there (8 or so yrs ago).

                        1. re: ilysla

                          Still there. Seems to have lost its edge.

                          1. re: mc michael

                            wow, so it's still there, just not any good.

                            i thought the chef opened mason by way of grill lyon in downtown LA ???????

                            1. re: kevin

                              It's ok. It attracts an older crowd that may not want anything too adventurous.

                            2. re: mc michael

                              I keep seeing that "lost the edge" thing, but we made three visits w/family and liked it very much. Aside from the fairly serene atmosphere and the fine but unobtrusive music (classical chamber for the most part), which I'm sure some would consider "sleep-inducing" or "outdated," the food ranged from very good to outstanding and the service was friendly and brisk. Akira's food was once cutting-edge and he's not changed it, so if that's the "edge" we mean then yes, it's no longer innovative. But we aren't all in search of the Latest Thing. A lovely piece of fish with Haydn playing in the background is always welcome to me. Its only downside is how very expensive it is, which is why we've not gone back since the generous pa-in-law left the scene. But I bet the fish is still good!

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Agreed on all counts. Still one of my favourites for a peaceful (but expensive) dinner out. And I'm not an old, I just like quiet dinners - I find many restaurants just TOO LOUD - and I'm a sucker for really well-prepared fish that I didn't have to do myself.

                        2. I think a real good Pasadena asian fusion placed is Zilin.


                          It's right off Colorado in Old Town on Raymond. It's a new place. In fact, their waitress just told me they're having their formal opening this Friday.

                          I happened in there a couple weeks ago during Pasadena Cheeseburger Week. I saw the name on the list of the 25 competitors, so I thought I'd give it a try since I office nearby.

                          The burger I had.....which had Galanga (?) and pork belly on it..... was a special for the burger week. I'd say it was the best burger I've had in a while. It's not on the regular menu...... I hope it will be. It had the Korean-flavor thing going on and at the same time succeeded in just being real good juicy 1/2 lb. burger. The very definition of fusion and it worked great for me that way.There is a another burger on their regular menu which was still very good. Excellent fries with the burgers.

                          Aside from the burgers, they have a lot of very interesting looking menu items. I'll be back to try those. My son has some sort of dish with Italian rice and barbecued eel which I had a small taste of. Liked it a lot.

                          Service good. Prices fairly reasonable.....particularly the burger prices.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jerry200

                            Zillin looks very interesting, I will definitely give them a shot. The pbj with bacon jam sounds very intriguing

                            1. re: jerry200

                              We went to Zilin last Friday for lunch. It was quite empty around 12:45pm, which was a surprise.

                              We split one of their appetizers - Nested Egg asparagus, honshimeji mushrooms, peas, soft poached egg, miso butter. The dish was very tasty, but it took such a long time to come out that was off-putting!

                              My friend's main dish - Deviled Crab Toast shrimp & crab salad, szechuan spiced cucumber, hot mustard came out waay before the shared appetizer. It was a little awkward since he did not want to eat by himself - my own main dish took an additional eon to come out!

                              I had a special that was listed on their chalkboard - it was a Thai style burger, but I forget the full description.

                              My burger was the best dish for me. It was a very nice brioche, topped with a perfect burger and cheese. It had some spicy condiments, and the fries that came with it were also tasty.

                              The appetizer was also quite tasty - the mushrooms were perfectly cooked and had a great umami flavor.

                              My friend was happy with his crab toast. I had a small bite and it tasted a bit bland to my Indian palate.

                              What was pretty poor was the delay in getting the food - when the place was almost completely empty. I suspect they still have not ironed out the problems with the kitchen - they had been open only 1 month.

                              I am tempted to go back since the prices are reasonable and the food was interesting. But I am also hoping they will get their service in order.

                              1. re: jerry200

                                Went back to Zilin for dinner tonight. While the place was fuller than my first visit during a Friday lunch hour, it still is somewhat empty for a Saturday evening dinner hour in old town.

                                We had a Red Trolly Karl Strauss beer, which tasted a bit like the Belgian beers that I love.

                                We had the Mary's Farm Free Range Chicken Wings with Sriracha and lime sauce. Four large wings with cilantro garnish were nicely crispy and good sauce, though it could have used a little more saltiness. (Eating this reminded me of the contrast with the beyond-horrible wings at Abricott)

                                My wife had the Bulgogi burger with Asian slaw, pickled sweet pepper, Sriracha cheese sauce. I had a bite of the burger, and it was quite tasty, but not as good as the special burger I had at lunch on a previous visit - see below. It came with a side of fries, which were OK.

                                I ordered from the handwritten specials of the day - Burnt Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs, with field greens in a vinaigrette which had pork fat, and a large cube of Sichuan pickled cucumber. The ribs were a bit dry, and some of the burnt edges had a slight bitter aftertaste, but still overall enjoyable.

                                They participate in the 5 Star restaurant loyalty program which garners one point for each dollar spent on food (before taxes). See http://www.fivestars.com/

                                We will go back and explore more of their menu.

                              2. Not sure that it qualifies as fusion, but some of the Ludo Bites things done at Vertical are interesting.