Firedragon Roll
Firedragon Roll: Shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy tuna, drizzled with a spicy mayo and eel sauce and topped with tempura crunch flakes
Photo by Evans Vestal Ward 

Flipping fresh

Seafood Grill & Sushi offers fine dinners at lunch-special prices

By Dan O'Heron 02/10/2011

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Diners no longer have any reason to complain about the lack of affordable seafood in Old Pasadena.
With the opening of Seafood Grill & Sushi, customers now have available fine dinners at lunch-special prices. Think of it: firm, flavorful charbroiled mahi mahi, complete with coleslaw, bread, rice, fries or grilled zucchini, plus intriguing sauces, for $8.95? Or a tender charbroiled catfish filet, with all the etceteras, for $7.95?
And more to set the seafood world on fire — even if you’ve never heard of it — white roughy.
For $7.95, you get a lean, firm, mellow pearly white slab with a flavor that beats orange roughy, and even fresh cod — and it’s more tender than either.
Marketing this tasty, deep-sea perch under the name “white roughy” may endanger the species. It’s destined to become so popular that the only way to save it from likely extinction would be to give it back its original name — slimehead, so dubbed by New Zealand fishermen. 
Other charbroiled favorites (from $9.45 to $12.95) prepared by Chef Jay Lim include wild Atlantic salmon, giant shrimp, yellowtail collar and the ever-popular ahi tuna.
Fast fish eaters can get wrapped up in a sea of taco and burrito options, mostly from $2.35 to $6.95. And you can get a generously portioned lobster taco for only $8.45.
If these seafood bargains don’t get to you hook, line and sinker, there’s an introductory bonus. For a limited time, the “Happy Hour” or “Early Bird” dinner has been extended from 3 p.m. all the way to 10:30 p.m., during which time all entrees (except already discounted sushi and sashimi) are offered at 50 percent off regular menu prices.
While I’m not exactly an early bird, these late-night bird feedings of mahi mahi dinners for $4.50, and catfish and white roughy for $4, might have me perched in the place night after night. To be eligible, just ask Manager John Ham for the 50 percent off special before ordering (dine in only).
Like Barnacle Bill, yours truly clings in amazement to the idea that such great bargains are still available in the high-rent district of Old Pasadena.
Salad eaters are paid off with a choice of six colorful platters, each blooming with organic green mixes, tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges, olives, romaine and carrots. My favorite is a dandy skin-on salmon so crisp my fork clicked against its shiny surface. For guests without sea legs, barbecued beef ribs, beef teriyaki and pork cutlets are also available. 
More importantly, the difference between this restaurant and others is as great as can be — the sushi chef is a woman! 
For centuries — even today — men in Japan and Korea have stuck firmly to the belief that a woman’s hands are too warm to form raw fish, a refrigerated process; and her heart is so warm she’d feel sorry for the fish and run out of the bar. 
The precept — not totally unkind, but laughable — doesn’t seem to phase Chef Julie Kim, wife of owner Peter Kim. Her status as a woman running in traditional male circles doesn’t prevent her from deftly engaging in the artful rhythms of cutting, twisting and pinching a shapeless ball of rice, seaweed and seafood into tasty and visual sensations. 
Kim’s training for 15 years at her husband’s other restaurant, Tenno Sushi in downtown LA’s Little Tokyo, shows off in the “B.S.C.R” she prepared for me: A tender baked scallop over a California roll, cut into six pieces, for $5.95.
Chef Kim creates in the kitchen and not at a sushi bar. If you miss chewing the fat with a sushi chef, at least your wallet won’t lose its shape here. She creates 20, two-piece sushi sets, each under $2.95; 19 five- to six-piece regular rolls from $2.95 to $5.95, and 36 premium rolls from $5.95 to $8.95 for the commemorative “Old Pasadena” (shrimp tempura, crab, cream cheese and asparagus, wrapped in soy paper).
Perusing the huge menu, I was glad to see that Julie doesn’t waste time on oddball dishes like ankimo. Though a prized delicacy for some, I think of this monkfish liver as prank food, only to be eaten on a dare. With a big mouth and a worm-like filament growing out of a cowled head, the thought of eating a monkfish, the ugliest fish in the sea, gives me the creeps. 
And another good reason not to shiver me timbers is that Julie doesn’t mess with live seafood. There will be no wriggling antennae saying hello at my table before waving goodbye. 
With Julie Kim as a pioneer in the field, I expect to see more women on a California roll. 

Seafood Grill & Sushi
124 E. Colorado Blvd.| Old Pasadena
(626) 584-1120
Beer & wine


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Does every seafood meal come with a certificate of origin, ensuring that none of the fish served was harvested floating off the surface of the Gulf of Mexico?

The last thing my poor frail body needs is a sucker-punched infusion of petroleum and corexit.


posted by DanD on 2/15/11 @ 09:10 a.m.
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