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Hugo Molina

Tom Armitage | Apr 11, 200106:56 PM

Not much has been written on Chowhound about Hugo Molina in Pasadena. I ate there last night and, though the food was in general nicely prepared, came away with a mild case of the ho-hums. The best dish was huitlacoche raviolis in a roasted corn sauce. If all the food had been this good, I would have been pretty enthusiastic. A salad with “ocean-salad” seaweed, sprouts, and crispy noodles, topped with a nicely cooked piece of sea bass, was not as exciting, but still tasty. On the other hand, I was not wowed by the crab cake with ginger sauce. The crab cake itself was only okay, nothing more, and I would have preferred a sauce that provided less competition with the flavor of the crab. An entrée of wild boar in a sun-dried tomato and port sauce was technically fine. The sauce nicely complemented the pork, which was not in the least gamy, and the accompaniments were also complementary and nicely prepared. But somehow, though I couldn’t find much technical fault with it, the dish did not inspire me.

Hugo Molina is still in the mode of putting together unusual combinations and mixing lots of flavors, as was his trademark at Parkway Grill. Like pizza topped with Asian pears, fresh papaya, caramelized walnuts, and Cambozola cheese. The flavors at Hugo Molina are primarily Latin and Caribbean, but there are also Asian and other influences scattered about the menu. The appetizers are the most intriguing part of the menu (quesadilla with Portabello mushrooms and Guajillo chili/orange sauce; Hawaiian style sashimi poke), the entrées less so. Desserts were pretty standard stuff (lemon and berry napoleon, chocolate towers, etc.), and not difficult to resist. Hugo Molina isn’t a bad choice, but Xiomara currently gets my vote for Latin fare in Pasadena. Neither place, however, is on my “A” list for Los Angeles area restaurants.

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