Amongst the new places opening up in Old Pasadena is 168 Restaurant & Lounge, a new venture from Classically-trained Chef Hisashi Yoshiara, formerly of Cafe Jacoulet, the Old Pasadena institution. In his new kitchen, Chef Yoshiara envisions his own take on California cuisine, with an Asian flair.
Owner Jack Huang of Villa Sorriso, Barcelona, and iXtapa has added to his local mini empire in the Villa Sorriso space, which has moved back to its original location. The restaurant culls its name from its address, but also from Chinese culture, where 1-6-8 represents abundance, good fortune and prosperity.
The unique menu is served at communal tables for small parties of two or large gatherings. Diners can fill up their plates on dishes such as the house specialty bo ssam. The dish must be ordered 24 hours in advance, but it sounds like it is worth the wait for the slow-roasted Korean-style pork shoulder served with multiple accoutrements and lettuce cups. There are also plenty of appetizers to pass around, like gyoza or a special ramen with spicy kurobuta char siu. There are even options for vegans and vegetarians that go beyond the usual salad to a vegan kaiseki box and on-trend kale salad.
The creativity from the kitchen doesn’t stop with the selection of food either. The full bar has a huge selection of specialty cocktails, sodas and other drinks to accompany your meal, or just to relax and enjoy as you listen to the live music on the patio. Drinks like the tamarind-kaffir lime-ginger soda w/grilled pineapple are crafted using housemade fruit purees and syrups.
For special events, book the private dining room and put your trust in Chef Yoshiara’s hands with an omakase menu. And don’t forget to finish with something sweet, whether its mochi ice cream or chocolate-covered strawberries.
168 Restaurant & Lounge 168 W. Colorado Blvd, Old Pasadena, CA 91105
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