Had the opportunity to try ZEQUE restaurant in Pasadena, it's located in the same shopping center where Corner Bakery and the new Trader Joe's is (corner of Lake and Del Mar).
ZEQUE bills itself as a Japanese Style Bistro
Place was eerily empty on a Saturday night. Decor was heavy on the mood lighting, not bad, but still a bit odd.
Ok, onto the food.
We were given the "Winter Menu" to look at. From this I presume there must be a "Spring Menu" in the works?
Anyhow, the menu is simply a mess. There is a small section labeled "Appetizer" and then various headings for things like "Oyster" "Kobe Beef" "Pasta" "Salad" "Vegetarian". But there's more, there are also seprate sections for "A la Carte" and "Side Order". No idea whether these items are intended to be shared, ordered separately or what ...? Server was no help. When asked for clarification - she gently said "all of it is very good". Ok.
Just perusing the menu is fascinating. ZEQUE offers Kobe Beef Curry! What will they think of next? Kobe Beef sloppy joes? Or maybe Korabuta pork hotdogs? How about Toro Lunchables with ritz crackers? Why would you use a rare grade of beef like Kobe on ... curry!
As an appetizer the menu also lists "Tuna Tar Tar". Huh? Is that Tuna Tartare (as in raw) or Tuna Tartar (as in sauce)? When queried, our fine serve said, all of our fish is sushi grade and comes with our chef's special sauce. Um, ok.
Working from left to right, we also spy a dish called "Scallop with Tar Tar Sauce"! Holy, mackeral, Batman, what do we have here? Do we get ONE scallop with the now infamous "tar tar" thing? And, like the Sushi Tar Tar, does the singular scallop come with the special sauce?
Ok, seriously, the menu really needs some work. Besides just being hard to understand (there's a salad called "King Crab and Marinated Salmon" - not really an appetizing combo for of all things a salad), but out of step. For example, there's a Pasta Vongole, which is typical summer dish -- but this is supposedly ZEQUE'S "Winter Menu" right?
Bottom line, ZEQUE tries to be what Maison Akira and Shiro already are -- sophisticated Japanese/California fusion cuisine. ZEQUE is obviously not on par with those two establishments (which is not a slam on ZEQUE given it's lower price point), but the food is really pedestrian.
Oysters did not smell fresh at all. Steamed mussels were overcooked. The Deep Fried Whole Cat Fish (a la Shiro) failed to elicit anything more than, "hey, it's black all over".
Not going back any time soon, but if you want to try, below is the info.
345 S Lake Av #115 (corner of Lake/Del Mar)
310 430 2562
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