Bone Kettle is a rare entity that boasts true respect to its South Asian origin in addition to an elegant ambiance that speaks to Old Town Pasadena. From the outside, Bone Kettle is another haute spot, with a clean, chic look that inevitably brings in the posh crowd that fills the place to the brim. The food, however, tells an entirely different story—one that typically comes from hole-in-the-wall spots with cheeky décor, questionable health ratings, and an equally eager following that knows this is the closest you’re going to get to true Asian cooking without crossing the Pacific.
Family owned and operated, Bone Kettle owes its culinary mastery to Executive Chef Erwin Tjahyadi, whose Le Cordon Bleu training and apprenticeships under Wolfgang Puck and Trey Foshee earned him a Zagat 30 Under 30 distinction. Tjahyadi’s recipes come from his mother and grandmother, as well as his own time in Indonesia, with French technique weaved in ever-so-delicately.
These time-honored cooking techniques certainly show, with Bone Kettle’s namesake bone broth elevating the restaurant up with the ranks of Pasadena’s finest. Cooked for 36 hours in a signature blend of spices, it’s served with tender ramen noodles and a sprinkling of vegetables, with add-ons from crispy tempeh to fatty brisket and the beloved braised ox tail. You’ll find a bowl in front of virtually everyone from that posh Pasadena crowd, where flavor clearly prevails over elegance as patrons sip and slurp their way to satisfaction.
The menu expands far beyond the bone broth as well. Chef Tjahyadi incorporates equally deep, bold flavors into small plates like buttery bone marrow, oxtail dumplings finished with seasonal mushrooms, and the char kway teow, a mix of noodles with prawns and sweet sausage that speaks slightly to chow mein, but with a distinct flavor profile says something new and different. Entrees include crab fried rice and garlic steak nasi goreng, where the steak is so rich with garlic and holds such a perfectly crispy finish that you just want them to bring the whole slab to the table
An array of wines, beers and sakes complete the experience, as well as some intriguing housemade mocktails such as lychee dragonfruit lemonade and a simply heavenly novelty that mixes yuzu, blue hibiscus and raspberry syrup.
Bone Kettle is located at 67 North Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103. Open 11:30a – 2:30p and 5:30 – 9:30p 7 days a week. Avg. out-the-door cost for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$70/person. For more information call (626) 795-5702 or visit BoneKettle.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.