Mouthwatering, Fresh Addition to Old Pasadena: Pan-Asian Culinary Journey called ‘168’ Opens (dumplings + noodles + bo ssam - oh my!)
Unique family style dining in beautiful modern Asian villa
Kontrol MG, Inc. today announced the opening of 168, a fresh, new full-service dining experience in Old Pasadena. Classically-trained Executive Chef/Managing Partner Hisashi Yoshiara, who has helmed several fine dining restaurants (Tra Fiori, Cafe Jacoulet, Cinnabar, La Boheme, Jozu) but has also shown he understands the casual dining market (Buddha’s Belly), offers his vision of a California menu influenced by Pan-Asian traditions. The name ‘168’ is both the restaurant’s address and a fortuitous Chinese saying that means “May you have a prosperous journey from beginning to end.” For Chef Yoshiara, who was part of the original team behind “Cafe Jacoulet”, the legendary French-Japanese restaurant which helped spark the revitalization of Old Pasadena, the journey has come full circle.
The playful, understated sophistication of 168 is evident in both the menu and in the design of the former “Villa SORRISO” space, as
imagined by the awardwinning, international design team of Sat Garg of Akar Studios. The main dining room is dominated by an oversized graphic of a giant chartreuse chrysanthemum. On another wall, a vibrant orange sculpture of a tree crafted from real branches brings a touch of organic freshness to the space. Through the archway, a cool aqua and green sushi bar and sakelounge beckons. In the spacious, central patio, a modern fountain splashes and a firepit glimmers amid the beautiful ipe wood tables. “We tried to imagine the kind of place we’d like to go to with our friends and families, with the kind of food we’d like to eat, which we feel is missing in Pasadena, said Karen Tanji and Jack Huang, co-owners of 168. “We want diners to play with their food. The menu lends itself to family-style dining, so you can share a variety of flavors and textures in your meal.”
Chef Yoshiara’s refined style of cooking makes every dish pop with layers of vibrant flavor and color. The menu will change to reflect the best offerings of the season and will always include vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. To start, try the jumbo Panfried Whole ShrimpPork, Gyoza with Spicy Cilantro Sauce, slightly crisp and chewy on the outside. The Japanese Eggplant Miso is perfect for sharing, with a deep umami flavor from the Kyoto Saikyo Miso Sauce. Add the Organic Baby Kale Salad with Thai Basil Dijon dressing, then move on to the Spicy Kurobuta Cha Siu Ramen, which will have you draining every spoonful of the ohsodelectable broth with layers of porky richness. Now match that with the delicacy of the Miso Glazed Alaskan Black Cod served with Edamame Sushi Rice and Tokyo turnip or the hefty doublecut Pan-Roasted Kurobuta Pork Chop wrapped in crispy bacon with pan-roasted potatoes or the lightness of the vegan Kaiseki bento box and you have a meal of wonderful contrasting tastes.
Nottobemissed desserts include a creamy green-tea infused tiramisu and the lightest flourless chocolate souffle cake you’ll ever lick your plate clean for.
But by all means, reserve ahead (24 hrs.) for the house specialty: bo ssam, a Koreanstyle, marinated (overnight) whole pork shoulder, slowroasted (6 hrs.) until crisply carmelized on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. Served with a stack of crisp lettuce, housemade sauces and edamame sushi rice, it will be the centerpiece of a feast for a party of 610.
Diners can add noodles, salads and more to complete their dining experience.
From the bar, 168 offers housemade fruit purees and syrups which go into signature cocktails like the Red Dragon (soju and fresh watermelon juice, kaffir lime syrup) as well as fresh fruit and vegetable coolers, and handcrafted sodas (try the tamarind-kaffir lime-ginger).
The welcoming and attentive wait staff provides guidance on pairing the well-edited sake and soju menu, boutique wine list and Asian craft beer menu with your dining selections. Try the unique offering of funaguchi sake raw, unfiltered cask-drawn sake which pairs well with the stronger flavored dishes on the menu. Happy Hour is offered MondayFriday, featuring $4 cocktails and $6 specialty small plates. For all guests, complimentary filtered water is flavored with different ingredients daily and offered throughout every meal.
In future weeks, watch for the unveiling of The Omakase Room at 168, a sumptuously elegant private dining room, all hot pink and charcoal, which will offer wine tasting dinners, sake flight dinners, and omakase-style meals for private dinner parties. Another piece will be the opening of the sushi bar and sake lounge. Lunch service begins August 5. An upstairs lounge holds sofas, cocktail tables and a private bar. Expect DJs and live music in the future. 168 is a journey that is a feast for the senses with ohsomuch to experience along the way. Just what Pasadena has been waiting for.
Dinner: Sun-Thurs.:4:00-10:30, FriSat.: 4:00-11:00
Lunch: (beginning 8/5) 11:30 - 4:00
Happy Hour: MonFri:4:00-7:00
Sushi bar: now open
168 W. Colorado Boulevard
Old Pasadena, CA 91105
Based in Old Pasadena, CA, Kontrol MG, Inc. is a privatelyowned restaurant management company with three other concepts, all in the Old Pasadena market (Villa SORRISO, Bar Celona and Ixtapa Cantina).
Owned and operated by Karen Tanji and Jack Huang since 1994.