November 19, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
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  • The chicken lettuce wraps were knock-your-socks-off delicious. The mix of soft, seasoned chicken and veggies alongside the fresh lettuce was phenomenal.
    Photos by Sharon Mager
    The chicken lettuce wraps were knock-your-socks-off delicious. The mix of soft, seasoned chicken and veggies alongside the fresh lettuce was phenomenal.
  • Light and flaky on the outside, the spring rolls were packed with soft chicken and vegetables on the inside.
    Photos by Sharon Mager
    Light and flaky on the outside, the spring rolls were packed with soft chicken and vegetables on the inside.
  • All of the sushi could easily be described as fresh and filling. The portion sizes were generous.
    Photos by Sharon Mager
    All of the sushi could easily be described as fresh and filling. The portion sizes were generous.
  • The chicken lo mein was tasty, with thick noodles, tender chicken, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and green onions.
    Photos by Sharon Mager
    The chicken lo mein was tasty, with thick noodles, tender chicken, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and green onions.
  • About the size of a softball, the tempura fried ice cream was smothered in melted milk chocolate and lit it on fire. Underneath, the warm, chewy tempura and the creamy vanilla ice cream was good but sweet.
    Photos by Sharon Mager
    About the size of a softball, the tempura fried ice cream was smothered in melted milk chocolate and lit it on fire. Underneath, the warm, chewy tempura and the creamy vanilla ice cream was good but sweet.

Olive And Sesame Specializes In Authentic Asian Cuisine

Sharon Mager
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October 19, 2017

You may not be able to get sushi straight from Japan or chow mein from Beijing, but Olive and Sesame is probably the closest you can come without hopping on an airplane. The Asian restaurant, tucked away in the back of the Lakeshore Plaza near Ledo Pizza and ZIPS Dry Cleaners, offers a wide variety of Asian food in a pleasant atmosphere.

As a sushi enthusiast, I’ve tried many locations throughout the county. I’ve found some terrific options for fresh Asian dishes, but Olive and Sesame has become my go-to place when my husband and I want to go out on a date or if I’m dying of lo mein withdrawal.

My husband and I tried the place on a Saturday night around 8:00pm. It was hard to choose an appetizer among the myriad appealing choices. Several types of tempura, including seafood and vegetable, along with crab wontons and dumplings, were among the offerings. The waiter recommended the spring rolls as well as the chicken lettuce wraps, so we decided to try both.

The appetizers arrived quickly — two crispy spring rolls with sweet duck sauce on the side and a bowl of sautéed chicken and vegetables, all finely chopped, next to a stack of crunchy lettuce leaves.

The spring rolls were pretty much what I expected and had experienced from other restaurants; they were light and flaky on the outside, packed with soft chicken and vegetables on the inside. I thought they were fried well, but honestly, the filling was a little bland. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t wow me.

The chicken lettuce wraps, on the other hand, were knock-your-socks-off delicious. The mix of soft, seasoned chicken and veggies alongside the fresh lettuce was phenomenal. My husband’s only complaint about this dish was that the onion taste was strong, but I — a true lover of caramelized onions — was happy with that particular element of the appetizer. We put away several leaves filled (taco-style) with chicken and vegetables, and probably would have finished the whole appetizer if the food hadn’t arrived so promptly.

I was anxious to try a few of the more well-known sushi rolls that I hadn’t had here before, including the Pasadena roll (obviously), the smokey honey roll and the spicy fly roll. My husband ordered the chicken lo mein because he is slow to warm up to sushi, but I convinced him to try the Maryland roll. There were also plenty of sashimi options, but I felt like the specialty rolls were probably the best way to go to get the full experience.

All of the sushi could easily be described as fresh and filling. Even though the rolls were cut up into the typical eight pieces, each of the slices was thick and jam-packed. The presentation was also outstanding; the sushi looked like a work of art as the wait staff carried it to our table.

The Maryland roll was rich. The primary ingredient in this roll is crab meat, of course, accompanied by romaine lettuce and mayonnaise. The whole roll was fried and drizzled with sweet teriyaki sauce and spicy mayonnaise that blended well together. The combination of sweet crab meat, a crispy-fried outer layer, and two types of mayo set this roll apart as a special treat for a special night.

The Pasadena roll was similar to the Maryland roll in that it, too, was fried and covered with teriyaki sauce and spicy mayo, but in lieu of crab meat, the roll offered raw salmon and tuna (maybe the owners know that Pasadenians aren’t happy unless we’re fishing?). I really liked this one, as did my husband. The salmon was soft and the tuna was flaky, so there were a lot of textures. This roll had a strong fish taste, so I recommend it only if you are a fan of food from the sea (or, in our case, the bay).

The smoked salmon, sticky rice and dense cream cheese of the smokey honey roll worked well together. The texture was slightly broken up by crunchy cucumber. The taste was superb; the smokiness of the salmon stood out and created a complex and delectable flavor palate. I would have liked to have tasted more spice; the roll was topped with teriyaki sauce and a honey wasabi sauce, but I really only tasted the honey. A little more of a kick would have helped to balance the sweetness, but it was still an enjoyable entrée.

The spicy fly roll had a layered taste to it — first, you taste the shrimp, then experience the crunch of the cucumber, and finally, the spice of the chili sauce kicks in and you really feel it! The roll is topped with colorful fish roe. Just like the other rolls, I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt more than satisfied.

The chicken lo mein was tasty and what you would hope for from a good restaurant serving Asian food. The noodles were thick and soft (not limp, though), and tender chicken, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and green onions intermingled with the carb-tastic food. It was a bit too heavy on the salty side for me, although this is what you would expect from this type of dish.

It was hard to fathom stuffing any dessert into us after gorging ourselves on so much food, but we suffered through (you’re welcome, dear reader). The menu offered a chocolate cake and a couple of different types of ice cream, but when we requested these things, the waiter informed us that the restaurant was out of everything except the tempura fried ice cream. That dessert was about the size of a softball, smothered in melted milk chocolate, and — as if it weren’t impressive enough — the waiter lit it on fire! Once the fire died down, I dug a spoon into the warm, chewy tempura and the creamy vanilla ice cream underneath. It was good but a tad too sweet. This would pair well with a savory or spicy dinner, but after the fried sushi and sweet sauces, it was too much for me.

Two spring rolls, an appetizer, four substantial sushi rolls, a huge plate of chicken lo mein, and a flaming dessert cost us about $80. Not cheap, but there were many other options on the menu for both sushi (standard rolls like smoked salmon and spicy tuna were less) and traditional Asian entrees.

You may not be able to slip away to Japan this weekend, but why not swing by Olive and Sesame and treat yourself? I’m sure you won’t regret it.


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