Straight ahead Taiwanese in Old Town Pasadena.
When Chinese immigrants were finally free to be able to live where they wanted in the late 1960s, they found cheaper land and houses out toward the west, in Monterey Park. From there they’ve slowly moved northward, into Alhambra, San Gabriel and Arcadia.
Now, good restaurants specializing in good Chinese food are moving into Old Pasadena proper, and forgive me I find that a fantastic development.
When I first walked past ZiLin Restaurant, I took a look at the menu and the first thing I thought was Taiwanese. I saw the Dan Dan noodles and the Beef Noodle Soup and thought…”Okay, maybe someone from Arcadia can eat here.” Would it survive in Arcadia is another matter.
The answer is well…maybe. I mean it could.
You walk in and…frankly are immediately taken in by the purple walls. Don’t know why that struck me so hard when I got in there, but it did. Those purple walls are adorned with work from a local artist…all for sale. Now, that’s a good thing. It lends a nice atmosphere to the place, and give you the idea that the owners want to be part of the community. All good. All good.
I went ahead and got a booth, though there is some communal seating in the center of the restaurant. From there I worked the menu.
You look to the back, and there’s a bar. So that’s helpful on a Saturday night. They’ve also got the specials up on a Chalkboard. Chalkboards always score you points in my book.
I’m here at lunchtime, and…well…it’s pretty quiet. Which is fine for me. I’m a little alarmed
I’m here at lunchtime, and…well…it’s pretty damn quiet. Fine for me, I can work in peace. Don’t know how alarmed I’d be if I were the owners. ZiLin is a bit off the beaten path of Colorado. It’s not one of the places you see if you’re walking along Colorado, but it is one of the places you see if you come out of the Schoolhouse Parking Structure. In fact, it’s one of the first places you see.
ZiLin is an okay place. Actually, pretty damn good. I do find it interesting that their website is has as it’s lead image a bunch of very non-Asian restaurant-goers. I personally hope that ZiLin goes ahead and stick with a forumla that would compete with the best restaurants in Temple City or San Gabriel, and not dial it down for the greater Pasadena area.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: On a menu with Hainan Chicken, with Dan Dan Noodles, Beef Noodle Soup, and Taiwanese Sausages…all traditional straight ahead Taiwanese comfort food classics…I went with the Ginger Noodles.
These were fun. I liked them, but next time, I’d roll with the above three.
Just goes to show you how much power a fried egg has over me.
It’s a nice little dish of noodly, slurpy fun. The ginger is there to give you a nice flavor, not to burn the back of your mouth out…which is ncie. But I felt guilty, since I should have measured ZiLin against what you’d find San Gabriel, Alhambra or Temple City. Like I said, I think it’d do okay.
But I went ahead and got the Taiwanese Sausage appetizer. If there’s anything I have a weakness for more than Fried eggs…
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Well, besides there being some communal tables, nothing really too onerous to report.
PARKING: First things first, check the Old Town Pasadena Parking and Valet Guide. But the closest Parking Structure is the Schoolhouse Structure between Fair Oaks and Raymond. You can also try to park with the meters along Pasadena’s Central Park (Also between Fair Oaks and Raymond), but that also involves a further walk. Now, here, make sure you exit the structure heading toward Raymond. Once you get on Raymond, you’ll be about a half block away from the restaurant.
34 South Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tel: (626) 535-9700
Tuesday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm