The Terrace at Langham Pasadena Chinese New Year Brunch

Pork Station at Langham Pasadena Chinese New Year brunch

Arguably the location of the best Chinese food on the West Coast, San Gabriel Valley neighbors Pasadena. Sometimes, though, you’re just in the mood for something a tad more posh, like cushioned wicker chairs with a garden view. Or a cheese plate. Or oysters on the half-shell. Or interesting small plates. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for bottomless bubbly.

Spice Duck with Black Sesame Sauce

Enter the Sunday Chinese New Year Brunch at the Langham Pasadena – available this Sunday and all the remaining Sundays in February. Whether it’s to celebrate the actual new year or Valentine’s Day – or both – it will run you $75 per person including the bottomless bubbly (champagne, mimosa and virgin bloody mary bar) with which to knock back crab claws, cold small Chinese plates (my favorite being the Spice Duck with Black Sesame Sauce), shrimp cocktail leg of lamb and prime rib. There’s also a full-service omelette station with plenty of fillings which to encase with egg.

Hama Hama Oysters on Half-shell

Let’s not forget the decent selection of cheese and charcuterie – something I always have a hard time saying no to. To be honest, there was a little something of everything – even a sushi station. And beautiful music and atmosphere provided by their piano-double-bass duo. First of all, I don’t know that I’ve ever had such good service with the bottomless bubbly. Though the “beverage bar” is accessible at all times, a helpful server was refilling our champagne glasses before we so much as got up even once. Second of all, though a visually pleasing addition to their seafood section, I wouldn’t recommend the crab claws – which weren’t especially fresh and actually stringy and tasteless. No matter – I turned my attention to the oysters on the half-shell. They’re of the Hama Hama variety, with a firm consistency but mild finish…a sensation that feels great going down. I went back for more of these babies while being sure to get a slice of prime rib. Also available in the same corner is leg of lamb.

Sesame Beef With Honey Dust

And oh, how I could wish I could comment on the dim sum offered in the brunch. After all, how is it a Chinese New Year brunch without dim sum? But I was just too zealous with everything else before realizing I should have been prioritizing. Pretty much a novice mistake. Thank goodness Fiona gave the little somethings surprisingly rave reviews.

Be sure to leave room for dessert, as there’s a chocolate fondue fountain, crepe station and extensive pastry section for that sweet tooth. The Chinese New Year’s Brunch is heaven for any glutton. Sit back, enjoy the view, enjoy the bubbles and celebrate Chinese New Year – with Valentine’s Day as an afterthought.

Reviewed buffet was hosted.

Further reading:

Chinese New Year at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena – Gourmet Pigs

Every Sunday in February


Complimentary valet

The Terrace at The Langham Pasadena
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106

More of Michael Voltaggio at The Dining Room, The Langham Pasadena

Suckling pig, pistachio beans, onions, OJ, coriander

Michael Voltaggio embodies brave, bold cooking. There is no doubt that at the other end of the meal, your palate will have changed, been expanded and ultimately a different palate than before. It will be one more open to new ideas.

Just a glance at the tasting menu I had the privilege of enjoying blows my mind – even now. The media dinner was held at The Dining Room inside the Langham Pasadena, which can boast being the only hotel-operated restaurant with a Michelin Star. Also present were TaraMetBlog, FoodGPS, EatingLA, My Last Bite, Lindsay and Julie of LAist – all of whom helped make this dinner such a rollicking good time. By then, Chef Voltaggio’s tenure as Chef de Cuisine was only 3 weeks old. It was here where he felt he’d be given the freedom to express his creativity however he should choose. And it’s quite the setting in which to do so. The Dining Room isn’t an oceanfront restaurant, nor is it in a mecca of food experimentation. My guess is that it aims to fill that niche inside Pasadena.

In about a month, The Dining room will undergo a renovation which should at least help to bring it up to speed with the modernity of the cuisine that is now served inside it. Voltaggio is also accompanied by a very confident sommelier, Matthew Lathan, whom I thought did an excellent job with the pairings.

But the food. Pastrami pigeon? Octopus over a bed of buttered popcorn paste? Pacific yellowtail over soy-watermelon? What??!!

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I Ate the Eight: Hatchi With Michael Voltaggio

Japanese tomato tartare, green almonds, parmesan “overeasy,” tapenade powders

It was H.C. of LAOCFoodie who secured the reservation and I jumped on the Twitter call to secure my spot in the Hatchi craze that was – this time – Top Chef and James Beard Award finalist Michael Voltaggio. Other foodie counterparts present included Kung Food Panda, Pepsi Monster, Christine of Folie à Choi Sauce, Hey Hey Scenesters, Follow PK plus many more inside. Kevin Eats, My Last Bite, Betty Hallock of the LA Times – all of which I had the pleasure of finally meeting for the first time (unfortunately not inclusive of Oishii Eats) – had dining room spots. And so did Tony. Yes, they were all seated in the inside of the restaurant while our table of 7 was banished to the outside. As indicative of the service quality bar set for the night – things were so slow that they set us up at a table in the Century City mall. For a temporary post at BreadBar, there were all the excuses available for the service to be slow and disorganized – but I think to the extent that it interfered with guests’ enjoyment of Voltaggio’s art, the service model should be reexamined.

It was a packed night, for sure. If you were so much as paying attention, you’d have realized that you had the chance to enjoy modern cooking or, if you will, “molecular gastronomy” for $8 a pop, 8 times over. Voltaggio, I’ve learned, is my age. Or rather – I am his age? The menu for the night was entitled “An Experience of Texture and Flavor” and I figured – I’ve never been afraid of either.

The plates featured cooking so modern that the egg you see above isn’t even actually an egg. It’s a consistency made from parmesan and sure as heck tasted like egg. The tartare stack tasted delicious. That gooey consistency was heavenly (besides – over-easy is how I prefer my eggs) and the overall dish was light and refreshing.

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