Colette - an American brunch eatery that is now a Chinese restaurant powerhouse

Last month I was driving home in Pasadena and saw four Chinese characters lit up on the side of a restaurant building. Which was weird cause that’s been an American brunch restaurant for the last five years. Since then I’ve been driving by it and keep seeing Chinese people dining in the restaurant.

Last Tuesday Bradley Lai posted about the restaurant, Colette. I messaged him immediately and told him we needed to gather some people and attack the menu for dinner. I looked up their yelp page and they are still using the same yelp page as the American brunch restaurant but slowly more and more reviews of the Chinese restaurant are intermingling in.

I can confidently say that this is one of the best Cantonese Restaurants I’ve eaten at in Los Angeles. Full stop. Every Cantonese dish we ate was the best version of that dish I’ve had in Los Angeles. There were so many things we wanted to order but the manager told us to slow it down. From what I’ve been told by others - the chef is the old chef from Embassy Kitchen.

Note – I’ve started to nibble/ eat seafood in 2023. Not outright eating plates of fish but a few bites here and there. Trying to leave it to worthwhile meals to get a sense of a restaurant. But still no land mammals.

Charlie shared a post on Instagram: "Colette @_colettepasadena - Pasadena, CA

(Please note - lobster, crab, fish were off menu items. Need to call in to special order! Ask for their manager Ken)

Last month I was driving home in Pasadena and saw...

Szechuan Style Chicken Salad - obviously not Cantonese. everyone said the chicken was perfectly cooked. I found the sauce to be deep, sweet, nutty and most importantly spicy! One of the diners complained the sauce was a bit too sweet.

Crispy Stuffed Chicken - air dried crispy chicken skin with shrimp paste. Comments from others at the table - best rendition they’ve had.

Curry beef brisket - delicious curry - that classic mala influence you have at Cantonese cafe curry but amped up a few notches. I could have eaten eight bowls of rice with it.

BBQ pork bun - they do fresh-to-order steamed dim sum for lunch and dinner! For my daughter. She wouldn’t share it with anyone. So I guess that means it was good.

Salted egg pumpkin - awesome. Awesome. So much salted egg. So savory. So good. Maybe cut the pumpkin slightly smaller but otherwise delicious.

Red snapper cooked very well. The seafood soy sauce was great. I was just eating the scallions by themselves dipped in the sauce. The table polished off two of them.

Herbal chicken soup with pear - chicken soup for the soul. Loved it.

Here are the showstoppers

Dungeness crab in curry - perfectly cooked crab over a bed of crispy vermecilli and curry.

Lobster with sticky rice - this is the most perfectly cooked lobster I have had at a chinese restaurant in America. John was giving his thing about how lobster shouldn’t be bothered to be eaten outside of New England but even this he was impressed by. The sticky rice coating was just the icing on the cake. Or rice on the lobster?

Chiu chow style beef stew on crispy pan fried vermicelli - That sauce. The juxtaposition of crunchy and soft noodle.

Finally. Walnut dessert soup with sesame rice ball - capped off a great dinner with a beautiful nutty sweet soup.

26 Likes

Awesome find! I want it all.

Do they plan on changing the name?

Was going to ask the manager yesterday but slipped my mind. They have all the signage still for Colette but also have the Chinese name on the wall.

Was packed last night, but was told it’s the busiest they’ve ever been. So glad to see food quality was able to stay that high despite them being so busy.

1 Like

Given that they redid the web site without changing the name, seems like they’re sticking with it.

Doesn’t look like the liquor license has changed hands since 2016, so maybe they just decided to switch from American to Cantonese.

One of the owners is the same. So a change in concept.

Per the license there’s been no change in ownership since 2016.

1 Like

correct. Chinese owned with another non Chinese partner. Now it’s just the Chinese partner.

2 Likes

OMG!! I need that Chicken… was that the full or half order?

Half order.

DAMN!! Thanks, now I know to adjust my order around that… Looks busy… I assume reservation recommended for a Friday?

They said that last night was the busiest night they ever had (a Saturday). I think the word is slowly getting out as well. We got there at 6 and they had some spare tables. Around 7 pm it was completely full. Then around 8:30 tables opened up for walkins

Easy to call for a reservation. Also stuff like Sticky Rice Lobster, herbal chicken soup and Curry Crab are special order off menu stuff when you reserve. Apparently Soy Sauce chicken is the real item to get off menu. Ordered it tomorrow for lunch - will tell ya’ll what the rest of the dining compatriots say

9 Likes

The crispy pan fried vermicelli if done well is reason enough to visit, havent had a good one in NA since Vancouver.

5 Likes

my bar is so low who knows.

Does their menu have the call ahead dishes? Or do you have to call and ask?

call and ask.

Went for lunch with the Shoku and HHI teams for lunch.

Got another off menu dish that the chef is very well known for. Clay pot soy sauce chicken. Didn’t try it but everyone enjoyed it. One person said a touch salty cause we didn’t have rice to absorb the sauce.


Salted egg with loofah

Never had loofah cooked this way. Almost like zucchini where it’s a little crunchy on the outside still. Not the braised version I’m so used to eating. Really good. Could have used more salted egg but might start cooking my loofah like this at home, not quite sure how they keep the texture as it breaks down so quickly and absorbs so much liquid when cooking.

Salted egg yolk with prawns - well battered with plump well cooked shrimp. Could use more salted egg today. But still delicious.


Braised tofu and mushroom

Incredibly simple dish but braised perfectly. Tofu skin still had good structure and silky smooth on the inside.

Salt and pepper squid - table not only devoured the squid but ate all the crispy scraps.


Chicken leg stuffed with sticky rice - also devoured by the table

Big boi lobster

Fried pork knuckle

Almond beef

One of the guys said it’s like an almond sticky candy almost with a very thin slice of beef layered inside then stacked.


Honey coated prawns

Winnie would have loved this as it’s covered in sweet rich honey. I could have used a little less honey but the prawn itself was nice

18 Likes

are the shells edible a la lotus of siam?

Also welcome partially back to the dark side!

yeah edible - similar to Lotus and Bistro Na but a lot more honeyed.

2 Likes

Only a matter of time before Kristie Hang and Eater LA gets in on this!

4 Likes

got @Clayfu’enced so gathered a crew, preordered some dishes and headed north of the 210.

will need to come back for the curry crab which they couldn’t get for our dinner.

@Bagel @noddles review forthcoming?

sergio

crispy stuffed chicken - deboned air-dried chicken, shrimp paste

skin was nice and crispy and coated with some panko? underneath. a bit light on the shrimp flavor.

curry beef brisket - beef brisket with house curry soup

good curry, tender brisket.

crispy honey shrimp - honey glazed crispy whole shrimp

sweet, shells not as thin and crispy as lotus of siam.

colette kung pao chicken - spicy diced chicken with peanut, chili pepper, stir-fried

recommended by the gm, nicely executed.

seafood pouch in pumpkin soup - pumpkin soup with seafood pouch stuffed with scallop, shrimp

a table favorite. pouch was made of egg whites, a play on egg drop soup?

golden yolk luffa - angled luffa stir fried with salted egg yolk

nice and crispy

stuffed chicken wings - braised chicken wings stuffed with sticky fried rice

this was when fifty shades of hei @chrishei called in a caviar airdrop. a few minutes later @Clayfu very generously drops off two tins of astrea. thank you for for your support.

@hppzz’s quenelles need some work.

bite of the night

lobster with sticky fried rice

this was great, the delicious sticky rice was the “sauce.”

well-done beef vermicelli - crispy stir-fried vermicelli with beef

another highlight

steamed red grouper

wagyu truffle fried rice - fried rice with diced miyazaki wagyu and black truffles

for all the @moonboy403’s who need their wagyu and truffles with every meal.

fin

28 Likes