JAPON BISTRO took a break…a three and a half month long break. Pasadena would be one less Japanese restaurant–but only temporarily. I was looking forward to its re-introduction into the Pasadena restaurant scene and while I was not able to make its grand re-opening a few weeks ago, I was finally able to make some time last week for dinner and I’m so glad I did.
I didn’t realize how much I missed the place. I sat down with with my dinner companion and we began perusing the dinner menu and reviewing the fresh seafood selections on the white board. I immediately noticed that the menu was literally reduced by half (and later, Owner Koji would tell me that his menu was actually reduced by 60%!). I was relieved to see that a few of my favorites made the cut and were still on his “new” menu which overall, features the typical Japanese offering however, unique in preparation, presentation and taste: sushi and sashimi, traditional and modern small plates (appetizers), soups, salads, vegetables, comforting noodle dishes, omakase (Chef’s Choice) and new and familiar entrees.
We met with Koji, who happened to still be at the restaurant, and after a short chat, we got down to the business of ordering. Koji wanted to prepare something special for us so I happily turned the reins over to him. There was one menu item that I absolutely had to have–and that was the Grilled Beef Tongue. Of all the items on his menu, this was my favorite and he happily obliged.
In addition to the Garlic Edamame and Grilled Beef Tongue, we ordered the Stuffed Shishito Peppers–Japanese green peppers stuffed with spicy tuna, deep fried tempura style and finished with a sweet house sauce. 2-3 people could easily share this hearty appetizer.
Chef Hiro prepared a wonderful appetizer plate for us that featured five traditional Japanese small bites: Shredded Mountain Potatoes w/ Tuna Sashimi; Tomago with Grated Daikon and Soy; Salmon Skin Salad with Kaiwari Sprouts, Bonito Flakes and Yamabogo; Kobacha with Carmelized Soy Glaze Dipping Sauce and Fresh Japanese Cucumber with Moromiso. Super fresh, clean, unique flavors and textures, and perfectly seasoned. In a word, oishii!
And of course, assorted Sushi and Sashimi was also on the menu–fish so fresh, it melts in your mouth like butter.
Koji introduced different types of sake for us to try. The first, which is not yet on their menu and was the only bottle they had in the entire restaurant, is a filtered sake whose taste could be mistaken for a white reisling. Smooth, crisp, and sweet with subtle “fruity” overtones, this Madellena Reisling is one that I would like to have as part of my sake collection. Also served with our meal was the Ichinokura, Shirataki Jozen Junmai and Namagenchu Sparkling Nigori sake–all perfect pairings and happily enjoyed.
If you’re ever in the Pasadena area and have a craving for Japanese, I encourage you to stop by and give Japon Bistro a try. I hope it will also become one of your favorites too. Special shout out and thanks to Koji, Chef Hiro, Steve, Amanda and Andi.
927 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91101