looks like Jones Coffee moving into former busters/mother moo in South Pasadena. Now Sopas parents can be well caffeinated with Jones or La Monorcha and Kaldi Coffee and keep kids happy with 2 boba spots also at that train track intersection.
yes. maquina originally soft opened inside a liquor store before moving to where it is just a couple of spots south of the BBQ joint south of washington on lake.
the owner greg (former owner of restaurant devon in monrovia - daughter #1 - and restaurant halie - daughter #2 - in pasadena, as well as the bull taco chain - proudly “non-authentic mexican” - he’s half polish, half nicaraguan.) and i chatted briefly -started as a dishwasher at shiro and worked his way up the ladder. he closed down the bull taco chain because he found it way too difficult to enforce quality across all the different locations.
he loves tacos and want to make tacos with quality ingredients - and go surfing. sources his tortillas from kernel of truth organics in boyle heights, i understand that all of his ingredients are locally sourced, even though that cuts into the profit margin. ceviche recipe is adapted from thomas keller’s version, but with more herbs in it. the business is entirely family run - father, daughter & brother help out when possible - wants to avoid hiring to help keep costs down. but on to the food.
i went with a pork belly mole burrito. the pork is reheated on the griddle along with some rice. a squirt of mole (i think more would be better) along with some minced cabbage rounded out the filling, which was nicely textured. i would have preferred a bit more mole, but the lack justified my experimenting with addition of salsa(s) to each mouthful. be careful - one of the salsas is “california reaper” made with some of the world’s hottest chiles.
personally, i have little affinity for the concept of the"gourmet taco", but there’s none of the associated vibe here. the benches, shelves & table tops are all unfinished plywood. the frills are spent on the ingredients, including the salsas at the self serve salsa bar. i typically describe salsa’s by color - i’d describe the ones there by flavor - the salsas with tomato distinctly tasted like tomato in a way i really hadn’t experienced yet. everybody working there is related. the chef likes to make good food with quality ingredients - but he’d rather be surfing. i like the guy - and not because he offered to donate food to my homeless ministry. though if he knew me better, he wouldn’t have asked if i have an instagram account…
We tried it Friday. Had a fair number of items on the menu—asada tots, ceviche and as for tacos : tripe and chicherones, pork belly, grilled fish, octopus, lamb, and mushroom.
Immediately recognized the blue corn tortillas and thought of kernel of truth, but to be honest most customers will just think it’s a very good tortillas and not much more. He should def promote it. Appreciated the complimentary fried tortillas chips but sadly they were fried pretty uneven.
The ceviche was sadly the worst of what we ate—underseasoned.
As for the tacos, we liked it. There’s minor quibbles with each taco (lamb slightly dry and yes could have used more mole etc) but overall flavors there. Couldn’t stop eating the asada tots—the asada was very well marinated and cooked and also prob bc I haven’t had tots since jr high. A poor-man’s version of guerilla tacos.
Agreed the tortillas were the best part about the tacos I got. I would have liked more salt in the fillings I ordered (lamb, pork mole, tripe + chicharron) but good start so far.
Ha, I remember Greg from the early Shiro days. He always had a surfer 'tude then as well. I think his dad may have bankrolled his early restaurant ventures.
Tried this today. The cooking seems leisurely. Crepes are pretty good but rather expensive. The baguette sandwiches seem a better deal. But at any price the crepes can’t compare to grabbing a hot one on Boule Miche.
I liked Dan in Padena for XLB and short rib fried rice.
@J_L did you find that the XLB was easy to break when you got takeout? I think we broke 3 or 4 of the 8.
Oh dang, that wasn’t the case with mine when I went in their first week. As I voiced then: I prefer the thicker skinned XLBs, and the thicker skin definitely also serves a structural integrity role as well when you make bigger XLBs to prevent random spillage of contents. My guess is that Dan management caved to n00b customer comments like “This isn’t as thin-skinned as Din Tai Fung…”, and promptly ventured forth into Inconsistencyland…
It could have been us, as the XLBs broke when trying to unstick and lift them from the steaming racks. They didn’t break under their own weight otherwise, but the DTF ones seem periously thin, yet don’t break under the same circumstances.
XLB skins much like a beautiful women can be thin, medium, and thick.
And, like XLB, it can really suck when the skin accidentally breaks and all the innards fall out.
We went to Dan today and found the food to be underwhelming. The fillings for the pork/crab XLB and pork crispy dumplings were a little bland - can’t quite put a finger on it, but didn’t have that pork sweetness. Kitchen also managed to pack the XLBs so tight in the steamer that they were literally all touching each other. We also had the pea sprouts which were really good, nice and garlicky. Not sure if we’d go back with DTF nearby and the myriad of SGV options.