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East Mates West in Central Pasadena

by mattjosh (writer), Albuquerque, January 29, 2007

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The cleverly named Thaitalian restaurant is a fascinating new fusion endeavor in Old Pasadena. On Colorado Blvd, just East of Fair Oaks, you'll find a sparkling little orange and green patio at the front of the self described "cooking duet" of, yes, Thai and Italian food.

At precisely noon on a Friday, the modest dining room was just about full, but not crowded, with about 12 of their approximately 15 tables occupied, plus the bar, where a very impressive wine cooler was erected against the back wall. My party of 3 was seated within a minute of entering, and our drink order taken immediately afterwards. I enjoyed an above average strawberry lemonade, while the rest of my party stuck to water. It was a work-day lunch, after all.

A cursory glance at the menu reveals such interesting dishes as "Tom Kha Spaghetti" and "Linguini Pad Thai." But there are not only fused flavors on the menu; it also offers a fine selection of more orthodox Thai and Italian food for those less adventurous. This strategy may satisfy the old guard as well as surprise the new.

The server then brought us a basket of two kinds of bread, exemplifying their twin cuisines. An adequate, although bland, Italian style loaf, as well as a thin, cracker-like, Thai-inspired spiced bread, which was delicious. Anything this good must have a name, so, please, excuse my ignorance for not knowing it. Also included was a bowl of finely minced tapenade which went well on either.

The minestrone that came next was the best I had ever had. The vegetables tasted fresh rather than stewed, and the consistency of the broth was lighter and the taste more vibrant than many other minestrones that more closely resemble ketchup. Not wanting to take this fusion idea too far, the broth reminded me a little bit of a Thai hot and sour. It even had a few degrees of heat that accumulated in the back of my throat - an always welcome addition to savory soups.

Originally, I did not plan to review this restaurant, nor was I very hungry that day, so I ordered the summer spinach salad that was on special. My table mates ordered a Chinese chicken salad and some sort of linguini, respectively. My salad was fabulous in taste as well as texture. The mix of palm hearts, strawberries, and artichoke with crisp spinach and candied walnuts, amongst so many others, was well schemed. Being so taken with my own dish, I liberally sampled both of my mates' dishes and was pleased to find similar results.

All in all, we agreed that the great triumph of Thaitalian was the attention to texture in addition to taste that seems so lacking at other, similarly priced restaurants. Speaking of price, its other strength is being one of the few respectable restaurants on this strip where you can get a nice sized entree for under $10. There you go, a price incentive to try something new - how often does that happen?

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Thaitalian: Cooking Duet
49 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
626.585.8808


About the Writer

mattjosh is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on East Mates West in Central Pasadena

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By Ariel on January 29, 2007 at 03:31 pm
sounds yummy :)
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By E Jo on January 29, 2007 at 03:32 pm
I'm so starving! What a great combination of foods, I had to check out their menu online: lobster ravioli in saffron curry sauce...I'll have to try it the next time I'm in Pasadena.
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By Steven Lane on January 29, 2007 at 08:42 pm
Yum!!!!! I will have to make that trek.
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By V on January 31, 2007 at 01:31 am
You know, it's not that much of a stretch really - a 'Linguini Pad Thai.' Although anthropologists assert that pasta was likely developed independently by a number of ethnic groups around the globe, it has always been a subject of much conjecture. What we do know however is that noodles dating back to about 2000 B.C. have been found near Lajia at the Huang He in Western China and the earliest known records of noodles in Europe, are found on Etruscan tomb decorations in central Italy, that date back around 400 B.C. And we do know that Marco Polo brought some kind of pasta from China to Italy in the 1200s. This is not to say that Thailand is China, but whether we call it pasta (of whatever form - Linguini,Cannelloni, Farfalle etc) or noodles, they can conceivably be interchangeable and probably compliment whatever nationality's chosen, complimentary sauce. It sounds really interesting. I really appreciate innovation in cooking, but only when handled with enough good-taste and restraint to keep the fusing subtle and keep things simple. Thanks for the tip-off. I'll be sure to give it a go if I find myself out that way.
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By madpeoplejen on January 31, 2007 at 03:25 pm
My boyfriend's been trying to get me to try this out with him for a few months now. While I love both Thai & Italian, everytime he suggests going, the idea of the fusion just kinda falls flat with me. I guess I have more icentive to go now.
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