If You Ever Happen to Be in Such and Such an Area…

Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank, CA.

Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank, CA.

Many reviews in this space have begun as dining tips from readers. The suggestions usually go something like “Hey, Gregg. If you ever happen to be in such and such an area, try such and such restaurant. We especially like the such and such dish.” Well, this time I happened to be in South Pasadena, so I took Mark’s lead and lunched at A1 Japanese Steak House (1013 Fair Oaks Ave.). A neat, inviting store front place frequented by Asians—a good sign of authenticity. The daily special offers six pieces of sushi and six pieces of California roll from the fresh sushi bar ($6.95) and there are daily specials from $7.10, as well as combinations served with miso, sticky rice and salad from $6.95. I opted for crispy tempura and tender sashimi, a tasty bargain at $7.95. Table service was prompt and accurate. My Japanese lunch companion had a sushi combination ($11.35), and rated it as “quite satisfactory but not special.”
Dinner prices range from $9.70 to $17, with the star feature A1 Love Boat combination platters ($17 to $19.50) served with sticky rice. A tempting array of appetizers would draw me back “the next time I happen to be…”
When approaching Redondo Beach, I begin to salivate at the prospect of biting into Chef Daniel Roberts miso-marinated, tempura-battered black cod version of fish and chips with shoestring potatoes at Baleen, a somewhat pricy but creative dining destination at 1250 Portofino Way.
Closer to home, Kiwami, in Studio City, a first cousin in the Katsuya group, features a tempura treatment of scallop, crab, shrimp, Satsuma-yam and Shiitake mushroom. A combination tempura platter ($16) is all but irresistible, as are items from the daily upscale specialty board in a serene setting (11920 Ventura Blvd.) I suggest the valet ($3.50), as street parking is iffy, at best.
The annual Zagat Los Angeles Southern California Restaurants 2010 ($15.95), boasting over 10,000 local diner opinions of more than 2000 restaurants, arrives this week. Serious diner-outers should pick up a copy el pronto!
Happy 60th birthday to the original Bob’s Big Boy burger palace (4211 Riverside Drive) where the landmark also officially arrived in the 21st century ‘green era’ by installing a 39-mega watt system of solar modules that will  supply about  20 percent of their energy needs. The new system even illuminates the 70-foot Bob’s logo sign. For those into statistics, the family-owned landmark cooks up 1800 double-deckers daily, and serves some 600,000 patrons annually. Classic car enthusiasts continue the tradition of arriving Friday evenings at the wheel of cherished hot rods converged in the parking lot at Bob’s. It’s quite a sight to behold. Pass the mustard!

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