Z: We loved that it's within a few blocks of the Lake Avenue Metro Gold Line Station, making it easy for anyone living within reach of the Metro to ride super-eco and then walk a few blocks to the restaurant. We enjoyed the warm greeting we received from Kim Pham, the general manager who remembered us from our visit to their charming West Covina location.
R: The colorful menu reflects many of the same international dishes that make their West Covina restaurant a popular dining spot. Reading the menu is like taking a culinary trip to distant lands like Japan, India, Thailand, Korea, Mexico, Italy, and Jamaica while dining at the friendly little eatery in an area of Pasadena destined to become a go-to locale.
Z: Joined by our friends Faye and Yakir, we began our feasting with Hot Wings and Thai Dumplings attractively plated together on a long rectangular platter. Those outrageously tasty Hot Wings were made of battered cauliflower florets generously bathed in a zesty buffalo sauce and accompanied by a bowl of homemade Ranch Dressing for delicious dipping. The Hot Wings were so tasty and compelling we could have made a meal of them.
R: The Thai Dumplings were the plumpest we've ever seen. Abundantly stuffed with spinach, cabbage, jicama, carrots, wood ear mushrooms and ginger, they were served with a little bowl of hoisin and chili sauce for dipping.
Z: We never miss an opportunity to eat our greens and happily plunged our forks into the Hearty Kale Salad that arrived with an enticing presentation anyone would find irresistible. The menu noted the kale was massaged. We thought about it for a moment because it seemed like something a chef rarely has time to do in a busy restaurant kitchen. We realized we were about to eat an extraordinary salad--and it truly was.
R: Don't forget the delicious Ranch Dressing and the colorful veggies like purple cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers that gave the attractive salad a little crunch. My favorite part, though, was the sliced Kalamata olives and crunchy sunflower seeds that crowned the top.
Z: The warm, bright sun crept through the large, floor-to-ceiling window that faced the street and bathed the room with a warm glow. The gorgeous birds and green leaves painted on the wall accented the loving message from Supreme Master Ching Hai that reminded us we share the earth with creatures that are just as special as we are.
R: The next item to spoil us completely was the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich thoughtfully cut into four portions. This is one captivating sandwich that could win a national sandwich-making contest in an instant. We had never tasted a jackfruit dish so full of savory flavor and will definitely order it on our next visit.
Z: We learned that irresistible smoky flavor comes from first grilling the jackfruit, then tossing it with the BBQ sauce that features smoked paprika. Another must-order item is the Ocean Tacos. Not only are they a tasty blend of flavors highlighting the crispy vegan fish, but they are also topped with creamy drizzles of vegan mayo to make an eye-popping presentation.
R: Yes, they made a knockout appearance and tasted so good we snapped them up quickly and loved the varied textures from crunchy to creamy. Next we shared a hearty entrée of Zesty Serendipity composed of a cluster of battered little nuggets composed of veggie chicken brilliantly flavored with an orange glaze. The crispy nuggets were complemented by steamed brown rice and beautiful broccoli florets with color so bright they nearly walked off the plate.
Z: Our final dish was the luscious Lemongrass Chicken, a Vietnamese-style dish that came with a mound of steamed brown rice. The tasty chicken fingers were fried and coated in a medium-spiced, savory sauce accented with lemongrass. We loved the chewy texture that made this vegan chicken stand apart from the veggie chicken in the Zesty Serendipity dish.
R: Finally ready for dessert, we saved just enough room to share a piece of Marbled Berry Cheesecake and a hearty Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie. Both desserts made a delightful sweet finish. Chocolate chip cookie fans will have to come to the Pasadena location for this treat created by Desiree, a knowledgeable server who delivers each dish with a smile.
Z: While we ate our way around the menu, we did miss a few items we'll have to enjoy when we return. Maybe we'll order one of the tempting pizzas, perhaps a plump burger, or the Southwestern Quinoa Salad. The menu offers plenty of variety and excellent prices. Appetizers range from $4 to $5.50, Entrees $8.50 to $10.95, Burgers and Sandwiches $7.95 to $9.50, Pizzas $11.95 to $12.95, Salads $8.50 to $8.95, Desserts $2.95 to $4.50.
R: Arriving by car, diners will find it easy to park on the street. Future plans for the restaurant include providing tables for outdoor dining.
950 E. Colorado Blvd., #104, Pasadena, CA 91106
Reviewed July 2015