ADDRESS: 67 N Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103


Bone Kettle in the Old Town Pasadena area was a restaurant that my friend Michele had recommended one time when we were looking for brunch spots in the area. We didn’t end up going there at the time, but I did add it to my bookmarks because the food options had definitely piqued my interest. Fast forward to last month when we were trying to decide where to get dinner, and Bone Kettle came back up again. I booked our reservation for a Sunday night and we headed down to the area to check it out.

On my drive down to the restaurant, I was thinking about whether the reservation had been necessary, since I’ve typically experienced a lighter crowd when dining out on Sundays. But when I arrived, to my surprise, the restaurant was absolutely jam-packed, and I was hearing walk-ups getting quoted on 45-minute to 60-minute waits. I sure was glad that I had put in that reservation then. We were able to get seated immediately, and got lead through the back of the restaurant to a secondary dining room area.

Bone Kettle’s menu spanned across a variety of different cuisines — I was able to spot Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, to name a few. It was really hard to decide on what dishes we wanted to order, because almost everything sounded great. I walked into the restaurant with my eye already on at least six of the dishes to choose from, our waiter recommended another three, and then Michele and I talked about another two or three just looking through the options another time. It certainly reaffirmed the fact that I need to take another visit to get an opportunity to try more items. In the end, we went with the Garlic Prawns, the Drunken Soba Noodles, and the Rendang Carbonara.

I was still pretty surprised at the fact that the restaurant was jam-packed on a Sunday night, but I would soon find out why that was the case. There are three main areas that they have set up for dining: the main dining room (which is inspired primarily by wood / bamboo elements), the dining area in the back (appeared to be more modern industrial vibe, with brick walls painted over white), and then the tables set up out in front of the restaurant with the heat lamps. It was a bit chilly the night that we went to the restaurant, so I’m glad that we didn’t end up getting seated outside. But I’d imagine that on a cool, summer evening, the outdoor dining option would actually be pretty good.

Our Garlic Prawns arrived at the table first, and it was definitely a sight to behold. The plate was piled up with these fried prawns, which had been butterflied out of their shells, hanging by the tails. There was a light breading on each of the prawns, and the dish was served with Thai basil and Fresno chili slices as well. The prawns also seemed like they were tossed in a garlic sauce for some of that additional aromatic flavor as well. Each bite of the prawns was really juicy, with the natural flavor of the prawn working really well with the garlic sauce. The shell was even crispy enough just to eat it along with the prawn, giving that nice crunch for some textural contrast. What a way to start off the meal.

The two noodle dishes ended up coming out in pretty close succession, with the Drunken Soba Noodles arriving first. This was a play on the Thai dish Drunken Noodles, which is traditionally cooked using flat rice noodles. The soba is a Japanese buckwheat noodle, and I thought that it was a pretty smart blend to use a noodle that has a different texture as well as doesn’t take up as much real estate as the flat rice noodles typically do. The noodles were tossed in a sauce mixture that probably consisted of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce, along with bell peppers, onions, scallions, garlic, Thai basil, Fresno chiles, eggs, and beef. There were some really good sweet, savory, spicy, and umami flavors going on as you ate more of the dish.

For the Rendang Carbonara, that was the dish that ended up standing out the least of the three. The 24-hour braised short ribs were combined with fried shallots, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, Fresno chiles, bacon, a poached egg, and microgreens, served with noodles. I thought that it was still a good dish to eat, with the savory and umami flavors coupled with a creamy texture that are all reminiscent of traditional carbonara. The aspect for me that knocked it down a bit, however, was how the rendang wasn’t allowed to shine. The Parmesan and bacon flavors overpowered the rendang, and all of the time spent trying to build the flavors from the 24-hour braise were not able to really get appreciated. That would be the one dish I would probably not get again on subsequent visits.

There is good reason why Bone Kettle was packed for dinner service on a Sunday night, and was still relatively packed when we left around 8:30PM. The food selection is fantastic, the ambiance has that good blend between elegant but also relaxed, and the price points seemed reasonable, given the quality of the ingredients and the location. I would absolutely come back here again without hesitation, as there are definitely a number of dishes that still seem to be calling my name from the menu. If you are looking for a restaurant that smartly captures the various flavors within different southeast Asian cuisines and presents them in a more upscale fashion, this is it.

Let’s now take a look at the Bone Kettle Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Garlic Prawns **
Crispy whole prawns, chef’s special garlic sauce, Thai basil, Fresno chili slices.


** Drunken Soba Noodles **
Soba with bell peppers, onions, scallions, garlic, Thai basil, Fresno chiles, and egg. Pictured with beef.


** Rendang Carbonara **
Noodles topped with 24-hour braised short ribs, fried shallots, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, Fresno chiles, bacon, poached egg, and microgreens.


** Mapo Tofu Fries **
Twice-fried Kennebec potatoes, Szechuan peppered ground beef, tofu, chives, and chili oil.


** Sisig **
Cubes of crispy pork belly, lime juice, Thai chiles, bell peppers, scallions, egg.


** Bone Marrow **
Bone marrow topped with scallion confit, served with grilled baguettes and greens tossed with apples, pears, and citrus dressing.


** Oxtail Dumplings **
Dumplings filled with braised oxtail, seasonal mushrooms, and leeks, garnished with sesame seeds and served with sanbaizu.


And finally, here are my rankings for Bone Kettle:

Food: 5 / 5

What more can I say about the food that I haven’t already mentioned? The selection is great, with many inventive dishes that sound delicious, along with a menu that can take you throughout southeast Asia. The quality of each plate of food that we tried, along with the presentation, was really top notch.

Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5

The two indoor dining areas both emulated the same vibe overall: elegant, but relaxed. The lighting setup both in the rooms as well as the lamp at the table made the meal feel a bit more intimate. Even though the restaurant itself was pretty full, I thought that the noise level never became an issue and you could really immerse yourself in the meal experience.

Service: 4.25 / 5

This was probably the one area that I felt was not as strong as the other three categories. That is not to say that the service was bad, but more that there wasn’t anything that made it stand out from other restaurants. Our waiter checked in to see how the meal was going and whether we needed anything else. I also thought that the kitchen did well to keep up with the pace of the food arriving out to the table.

Price: 5 / 5

The restaurant bills itself as “luxury high end,” and both the atmosphere and food quality backs that up. I thought that the pricing of the small plates was definitely well worth it, and something I’d gladly pay again.

19 / 20

Categories: California, Restaurants

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