Local Dining Scene:


Citysearch: Imagine the city and everything interesting in it food-wise was lifted onto a webpage - that's City Search!


Chowhound: The consensus for what is good, what is average, and what is mediocre food-wise.  If you want to stay in-the-know on food in L.A. (or anywhere in the U.S.), this site's message board is the site to visit.  These foodies are the real thing, people who have an authentic love of food and a desire to share their knowledge!


Gayot: This website is the bottom-line on freely accessible restaurant food rankings.


OpenTable: This is a convenient way to suss out restaurant reservation availability. The stats are also a good way to see which restaurants are hoppin' in our area!


Urbanspoon: This is a great starting point that takes you easily from research to reservation via one convenient site!


Yelp: This site is great for discovering word on the streets when it comes to closing the deal on where to eat!



Movie Theaters:


Regency Theatres: This theatre plays second-run movies.  Whoever selects the movies they play does a good job - the principles behind the selection process seem to be critical acclaim and financial success, every once in a while peppered by a totally random, totally welcome, off-the-wall selection.  It's an affordable "in" if you don't have the cash for other theaters but like/love the movie theater viewing experience.


ArcLight Cinemas: This is a nice middle ground between high-end and budget movie-viewing.  You can still make a night of it at the theater itself, as there is food served in a fairly upscale, pleasant setting.  If not, there are plenty of restaurants at El Paseo, where the theater is situated.  Or drive a bit and access all the restaurants in Old Town Pasadena!


iPic Theaters: Viewing from first-class, the highlights are comfy chairs and placing food/drink orders from those comfy chairs - plus there are no bad seats in this house.  Of course, you have to pay quite a bit to enjoy this premium environment....


Laemmle's Playhouse 7: The name Laemmle is synonymous with independent, foreign, and/or critically acclaimed films (not movies!).  It's a great chance to weigh-in on which kinds of movies are worthwhile to make and/or watch by affecting box-office earnings. 





Abricott: I'm ashamed to admit I've only ever ordered variations on pork belly here.  I see friends falling into their own rut.  We think other stuff on & off the menu sounds good in theory and looks good in reality, but we like what we had last time so much we can't quite bring ourselves to try that something new.  That said, the food here is rich.  Definitely good for regular visits, but probably not for every day.  Bonus: they serve LAMILL coffee here!


Bhanu: Great little Indian restaurant marauding as a hole-in-the-wall next to the Trader's Joe at the corner of Huntington & Rosemead.  


Cafe Fusion: Try this authentic Taiwanese restaurant.  Savor, among other things, the lamb chops, the fish baked in salt, the fresh shrimp, and the fresh lobster.


Chang's Garden: Great restaurant in a hoppin' plaza.  Try the pork-rib rice wrapped in lotus leaf, the stir fried fava beans, any one of the various soups, and, in the dead of winter, the savory, rejuvenating lamb stew.


Daisy Mint: Among the appetizers, the Duck Roll, Daisy Wing, Salmon Wraps and Tofu Soup are excellent.  Among the entrees, the Honey Pork and Daisy Back Rib are all-stars.  Other items I've not tried, but my friends have, are, according to them, also very good, such as the Daisy Salmon and Pumpkin Curry.


Din Tai Fung: This is a Taiwanese international restaurant chain famous for its juicy pork dumplings.  For those who don't know, the dumpling gets its name because when one bites into a dumpling, a little bit of soup juice squirts out!  Most everything else on the menu is tasty, too.


Euro Pane: Try the egg salad sandwich, the brown butter tart, and any of the macaroons.


Green Zone Restaurant: This is a great organic restaurant and mini-market on Valley.  The decor is contemporary, earthy and very welcoming.  For appetizers, try the Prawn Tofu Wraps, the Salmon Triangles, the Steamed Homemade Cabbage Gyoza, and the Steamed Homemade Chive Gyoza.  For salads, try the Seabass on Organic Greens.  For rice dishes, try the Organic Hainan Chicken Rice.  You will be impressed!


Jones Coffee Roasters: The coffee here is revelatory. 


Julienne: There is always a wait at this San Marino institution - and it is always well worth the wait!  The ambience is wonderful, and sitting outside on warm, sunny days is a rarefied treat.  Some go-to items: Lemon Creme Brulee Scone for breakfast; Grilled Filet of Beef Cobb Salad with Gorgonzola, Applewood Bacon, Avocado, Paprika Vinaigrette or Open-Face Egg Salad Sandwich with White Truffle Oil on Toasted Pumpernickel Bread, Butter Letture and Heirloom Tomatoes for lunch.  For beverages, try the Passion Fruit Iced Tea or Lavender Lemonade!


Luscious Dumplings: Small restaurant that always has a line out the door.  Small menu, too - but what they do, they do really well.  From their dumplings to their pan-fried dumplings to their noodles with soup on the side, you can't go wrong!


Maison Akira: This restaurant offers fine dining in an upscale environment.  It is consistently reliable, and Chef Akira recently made a few changes to his menu, including to his signature dish, the Miso Marinated Grilled Chilean Sea Bass.  Thumbs up there, as well as for the Baked Alaska!

Oto-Oto: This Izakaya restaurant in Monrovia is one branch of a high-quality, international chain that specializes in Japanese small plates.  Try their all-star dishes: the Oto-Oto Signature Tofu and the Seared Mackerel (seared at your table).  Also, sample their Yakitori, which are uniformly excellent - don't miss the Tomato Bacon Wrap or the Quail Eggs skewers.


The Raymond: This is another place with decent food but an excellent atmosphere.  There is outdoor seating in the front and back; the back seating is particularly nice in warm weather.


Roy's: This food is tasty and easy to appreciate, and the restaurant concept, including cooking classes for interested patrons, is easy to get behind.


The Royce: The Royce just re-opened.  It is now an excllent steak house.

Saladang Song: The food's on the sweet side, but the outdoor seating is beautiful: high cement/wraught iron structures that block out the traffic on Fair Oaks, and, inside the walls, the play of lights on water.


Shiro: This South Pasadena establishment is rightly well-known for its whole fried catfish, but many other items on the menu are well-worth tasting.  Try the Wednesday prix-fixe, which is usually a terrific deal.


Sin Ba La: This is a bit of a theme: authentic Taiwanese food in the San Gabriel Valley!  Order their sweet pork sausage rice plate.  Order their egg/oyster pancake.  Order their fresh grape juice.  Order their 5-item ice slushee dessert!


Zankou: If you want tasty, authentic rotisserie chicken, come here.  N.B., The garlic butter with pita bread is heavenly.





One Colorado - This commercial space is squat in the middle of Pasadena's hoppin' Old Town.  With a courtyard where movies are shown outside when the weather is nice, and housing, among others, GAP, Juicy Couture, and Kate Spade, this is a vibrant part of Old Town.  A newer addition is iPic Theaters, which provides a first-class movie-viewing experience!


Old Pasadena - There's not really a hip yet relatively accessible place to spend money that isn't represented in Old Pasadena.  American Apparel, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, and 21 Choices (for fro-yo) are all popular stops.


Paseo Colorado Pasadena - Part outdoor shopping, part living quarters, part restaurant space, this is a newer, vibrant contribution to Pasadena's commercial landscape.  Stores include MAC and Sephora.  Dining includes Porto Alegre Brazilian Churrascaria for Brazillian BBQ.


Santa Anita Fashion Park - They just keep on adding to this shopping complex....  It's got a lot of popular stores.  Banana Republic, Teavana, and Williams Sonoma are among the newer additions to this shopping mall's outdoor area.




© Copyright Ruthann Chou