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Sushi Roku a Gem in Old Town Pasadena

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Wasn't it Freud who said there were no such thing as accidents? We wonder what sort of analysis he'd have for our love (bordering on obsession) with sushi, and the happy accident that brought us to Sushi Roku in Pasadena, when our previous dining plans didn't pan out. Actually, we don't care what anyone says; Sushi Roku is an affordable, fun, and delicious restaurant tucked in among the bigger name chain eateries in the ever-popular One Colorado enclave in Old Town.

Stepping inside Sushi Roku's dim interior is like stepping into a cavelike haven from the brightness and bustle of the streets outside. The staff is enthusiastic and friendly, shouting traditional greetings, and, in our case, seating us promptly at the long, elegant sushi bar. There we could drink in the restaurant's cool and soothing stonework; we remarked that it felt as though we'd somehow been transported to a sushi bar in some beautiful Tokyo hotel. Beneath the glass of the bar we saw the piles of colorful, fresh fish and shellfish, awaiting the masterful touch of the lightening fast sushi chefs. We placed our initial order: Salmon, Tuna, and Mackerel (Aji) sushi, Canadian Rock Shrimp and Asparagus Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, and Spicy Scallop Roll. Soon the chef was presenting our dish over the rim of the bar, pausing to point out each item on the plate. The sushi pieces were gorgeous cuts--flavorful and fresh. The rolls were simple, well made, and not so packed with bells and whistles as to overwhelm the palate. We ate slowly, enjoying the ambiance and the food, and, with a nod of agreement from our dining companion, ordered just a little more: Halibut sushi and the Albacore and Garlic Roll. A bit of whitefish is a nice alternative in flavor in texture to the thicker, standard pieces of tuna or salmon, and the Albacore Garlic roll was phenomenal, with its tangy burst of garlic. Our dining companion cited the last roll her favorite, calling it "A fancy sushi version of a tuna sandwich." No matter what you call it, Sushi Roku is a moderately-priced, pleasant, and delicious haven in the chaos of Old Town Pasadena. Domo Arigato, Sushi Roku!

Sushi Roku: 33 Miller Alley at One Colorado, Pasadena (626) 683-3000. Locations also in Hollywood, Santa Monica, and at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas.