Pasadena has many Japanese Restaurants. I love sushi. When it comes to eating sushi, I am very critical. No, I won’t say I am a foodie. However, coming from Japan and having traveled extensively from Hokkaido (Northern Japan) to Hiroshima (Southern Japan), including small islands off Japan, I have tried many types of fish and seafood dishes including “Fugu cuisine” (poisonous and expensive).
I’ve tried a number of restaurants in Pasadena. Most Japanese Restaurants serve decent Sushi. Some good spots are Sushi Rokku, Sushi of Naples, and Japan Bistro. As for Noda, it was Yelp and the reviews that took me there.
It’s a very simple looking restaurant from the outside; nothing special. Inside the restaurant, there are about 10-12 tables, and a sushi bar that could seat roughly 12 or so guests. The excitement of the restaurant is “Mr. Kim” the Sushi Chef, and the freshness of the fish. After my husband and I were seated at the sushi bar, within 30 minutes , the place was packed with guests.
The people that sit at the sushi counter are obviously regulars. They chat with Mr. Kim and they share their bottles of sake, beer and shochu. Noda makes a Shochu drink in a ceramic tea pot with herb(s). Mr. Kim swears you cannot get drunk on this mix drink. (Yeah, right…) On the TV monitor, do not expect anything other than the “Golf Channel.” Mr. Kim is an avid golfer.
Sushi rolls are popular. There was one chef that did nothing but make rolls all night. Dynamite Roll, Rainbow Roll, Philly Roll, and the menu goes on. I tried the Rainbow Roll which came with generous portions of sliced fish. There is also a menu board that lists the daily specials.
The selling point of this restaurant is definitely the fish. It is fresh. It looks and tastes fresh. Another difference from other sushi places is that Mr. Kim knows how to “nigiru”a sushi. Nigiru means to hold together in Japanese. It is very common to see sushi with large portion of rice. Here, Mr. Kim gently folds a “tiny” amount of rice to the fish. This is very traditional of sushi in Japan. No Super Sizing allowed.
Another important things about sushi is – in Japan, the rice is considered more important than the fish. If the rice is not perfect, it can ruin the whole art of sushi. It can be over cooked, under cooked, to much vinegar, too warm, too cold – you get the hint. The perfect rice holds together but is not sticky, shines (yes, shines…), and each single rice grain is “puffed.” Am I being too critical?
At Noda Restaurant, I found a sushi that is pretty close to the real deal you get in Japan. So go check out the Noda on Day 356 of 365 Things To Do In Pasadena™, and see if the food meets your expectation. It did mine. Enjoy Sushi!
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