Cham Korean Bistro: Not Bad for Pasadena

It’s a shame that Pasadena has earned this reputation, but whenever I have to eat at a restaurant in that city, I lower my expectations. Because of this exact reason, I was pleased that Cham Korean Bistro was decent. This casual Korean restaurant located next to Lake is in the same location that another similar restaurant was. I forget the name of the previous restaurant, but I always referred to it as “Korean Chipotle” since it was set up the same way and the food was on the same level.

Fortunately, Cham is a little better than “Korean Chipotle.” I started off with a spicy tuna tofu pocket, which was decent as far as spicy tuna goes. The rice wasn’t old-tasting or hard. The spiciness of the chopped tuna had a good kick. The pieces of tuna still resembled tuna and not just some pulpy red mush that some places pass off as spicy tuna.


For my main, I ordered the sizzling bimbimbap with tofu and brown rice. Okay, not very genuinely Korean but hey, we’re in Pasadena. I was surprised that this actually came on a sizzling skillet. I had wrongly expected this to be a dumbed down (for liability purposes) version served on ceramic, but no, this baby was indeed sizzling. It even came with its own pot-holder. Taste-wise, it was what I expected of bibimbap: salty, spicy, and slightly sweet. The rice charred up nicely on the bottom. The only thing I was missing was some chopped kim chi.


Will ordered dukbokki as his main. I liked that it was nice and red, hot, and even a bit crunchy on the outside where the rice sticks were fried. If you’re a fan of crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, this is definitely the dish to get. It could be improved with some sort of protein like sliced tofu, but it’s still decent as it is.


One reason I don’t go to k-town enough is because Will finds it difficult to find reliable vegetarian food at most of the restaurants I like going to. No, we won’t be ditching k-town for Cham Korean Bistro, but for a casual Korean restaurant in Pasadena, it’s not bad. It also helps to have a decent beer list and be vegetarian friendly.

Cham Korean Bistro
851 Cordova Street
Pasadena, CA 91101-2675
(626) 792-2474

The Luggage Room Pizzeria

The Luggage Room in Pasadena on a Friday night is crowded, loud, and guaranteed to make you wait 15 minutes for a table unless you want to stand a constant vigilance at the bar. (For those unwilling to wait, the pizzeria is actually attached to Le Grande Orange Cafe which as a less pizza-oriented menu.)

Is the 15 minute wait worth it? For a nearby pizzeria with good pizza and a good wine list, yes.   The pizzas range from the ubiquitous margarita to the very Californian avocado pizza.  I ordered the mushroom party pizza ($13 – cremini mushrooms, onion, sweet fennel and an added egg at no extra cost) while Will ordered margarita ($12) with black olives and a rocket man ($12 – fresno chiles, broccolini, roasted garlic, and oven dried tomatoes ).

The Luggage RoomThe Luggage Room

The pizzas came out 10 minutes later with a crust featuring lots of big bubbles on a wooden serving board.  My mushroom pizza was earthy and savory, but I think it could have used a more pungent or sharper cheese to balance the musky mushrooms.  The topping wasn’t as good as Mozza’s funghi misti, but the crust was great.  It was crispy, with just the right amount of chew.  Once I got to the outer crust, which I usually discard at lesser pizzerias, I noticed a complex, tangy taste, thanks to their naturally leavened dough.

The Luggage RoomThe Luggage Room

The BF’s pizzas were decent, but I found the tomato sauce to be too tangy and zesty.  According to Will, they tasted like tomatoes from a can, but not in a good way.

For a place close to home with a good wine list, The Luggage Room is pretty good. If it were less busy on a Friday night, I’d definitely make this a regular.  A good pizza and glass of wine, a drink afterward at 1886 on Fair Oaks, and I’d call that a successful date night.

The Luggage Room Pizzeria
260 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 356-4440