Saturday, July 28, 2007

Japon Bistro

Even before I placed my order at Japon Bistro, the first 25 minutes of my first visit there already left me with a lasting impression, of the good kind. Simply, during a very busy lunch hour, I sat at a table for about 25 minutes, waiting for a friend who due to circumstances beyond her control was just running really late. I didn't want to order anything until she got there so I just sat there and sipped my water, waiting for her to arrive.

The whole time I sat there, I never got any negative vibes from the wait staff. In a similar situation a few years back at a different restaurant, I caught a couple of snide/impatient looks from my waiter as he looked from me to a few people who were in the lobby waiting to be seated. It bothered me. Did he think I was trying to stop him getting his tips for the evening? Even worse, he kept on trying to get me to order an appetizer while I was "waiting." What a jerk! In the end, my friend did show up, but I was so irritated that we ended leaving and eating elsewhere.

At Japon Bistro, our particular waiter was great. He'd stop by occasionally to re-fill my water glass and always behaved in a pleasant manner. I never felt like he was rushing me to order anything and when my friend finally did arrive, after giving her time to settle down and peruse the menu, only then did he come by to ask if we were ready to order. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention that because excellent service should always be noted.

As for the lunch itself, I ordered three items: the tofu salad and 2 specialty sushi rolls. The tofu salad looked an absolute mess. No care for presentation was taken whatsoever. One complaint I had was that the dressing wasn't evenly distributed on the salad. One forkful would have too much dressing, while another forkful wouldn't have enough. In general, while I wouldn't say that the salad was inedible, it certainly didn't taste good either. I definitely would not order this dish again.

Thank goodness for the sushi rolls. Unfortunately, I can't remember what they were called on the menu, but I do remember that both items had wonderfully fresh ingredients and I enjoyed every bite. First, there was what I'm referring to as the rice-less sushi. This rice-less sushi was basically tuna, salmon, some kind of white fish and avocado that was first wrapped in a seaweed wrapper and than in turn wrapped in cucumber.

When the plate was first put in front of me, it almost looked too pretty to eat, but eat it, I did. After taking my first bite, I actually didn't miss the rice at all. What I liked was the textures: the crunch of the cucumber, the crispness of the seaweed wrapper and than the softness of the fish and the avocado. This sushi roll was just fun to eat plus it tasted good.

My second sushi roll soon arrived and this was more traditional in that rice was part of the ingredients. This sushi roll was crab and cucumber topped with some kind of sauce (I can't remember what kind), green avocado and red fish roe. A graphic designer couldn't have planned it better. The contrast of the green of the avocado against the fish roe made the fish roe such a vibrant red that one may wonder if food coloring was involved. I asked the waiter and nope, no food coloring at all, just the natural coloring of that fish roe.

As for the taste, I give it a thumb's up. It was just as tasty the first roll I had. What was interesting about both rolls is that they were good just on their without the addition of too much soy sauce and actually no soy sauce for the "rice-less" sushi. I think that speaks well for the quality of the ingredients. Sometimes, soy sauce is used not necessarily as an additional flavoring, but more as a way to disguise sushi that isn't as up to par.

Overall, I had a great first visit to Japon Bistro and look forward to many more.

To see pics, go to:

Japon Bistro
927 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA, 91106
(626) 744-1751

Japon Bistro on Urbanspoon

No comments: