Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sesame Grill- Arcadia: Photos from 2009 to Early 2011

Sesame Grill Exterior

Sesame Grill has been one of the restaurants I've been frequenting for about ten years now, and I've previously posted two reviews on just their early-bird dinner specials. However, I had always meant to write a separate post on simply their lunch specials.

Sesame Grill Interior 1

Sesame Grill Interior 2

With each month past those two reviews, I had always wanted to write this post on Sesame Grill. But then there were problems. The pictures to me seemed mediocre, and so I wanted to improve them with subsequent visits. Soon enough, the pictures were over the amount I would typically post! The time to post about a post of such length became shorter as time moved on, and this post was left to sit out for quite a while.

Sesame Grill Interior 3

Sesame Grill Owl

Having not posted for two weeks I might as well do something interesting for this week! Today, I present you these pictures, from all the way back to May of 2009 to current time on Sesame Grill. There has been quite an improvement in their offerings and I think you will be able to sense a change by simply looking at the photos.

Sesame Grill: Hot Bread Rolls (w/ Hot Water in Lemon)

With every visit we've always been offered hot bread rolls with butter. Over the years, the butters have changed, and so have the bread. Sometimes the crust on the bottom would be harder, or the bread would be softer. But what has been constantly kept is that deep fragrance of yeast/ wine. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Sesame Grill Appetizer: Vegetable Rolls

As a child I would quite enjoy these vegetable spring rolls. They were cut at a diagonal back then, presented in a flower pattern. Nowadays, the vegetable rolls form an 'X' pattern, and so does the mustard and sweet and sour sauce. The bed of lettuce, dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, has always done a good job in cutting through the pungent flavors from the sauce and the crispiness of the spring roll. The dish has always been a fun combination of textures and flavors. I'd certainly recommend it if you are desiring something fried for an appetizer!

Sesame Grill Appetizer: Garden Salad

Now the Garden Salad appetizer has changed from this picture. Back in May of 2009 they would serve the salad with the same balsamic and vinegar dressing, but now this dish has transformed. You'll see the new version later in this post.

Sesame Grill: Linguini Clams

Linguini Clams has been one of our favorite dishes at Sesame Grill, and it comes in a white wine garlic sauce or a red sauce, which is essentially the same as the white wine garlic sauce but with some tomatoes added. We like both, but the white wine version allows the clam and seafood flavor to really shine. The fact that the clams were very nicely cooked and that the pasta is cooked to al dente makes the dish even better.

Sesame Grill: Fish

Occasionally Sesame Grill has special dishes, and one time there was this fish dish (seabass or halibut?) with corn, edamame, tomatoes, and mashed potatoes. Everytime we order these dishes they come out quite beautiful- not to mention the taste. I didn't order this, so I don't remember how it tastes. Otherwise I'd probably still remember, even after two years!

Sesame Grill: Salmon (Lunch)

This salmon dish however is a regular item on the special lunch menu. Served with a balsamic reduction, scoop of mashed potatoes, and vegetables, it is a simple preparation that works. The salmon is however farmed- you'll want to order their more expensive salmon dishes if you desire some wild salmon; there is a difference in taste and textures. The wild salmon at Sesame Grill is usually more tender and flavorful, while the farmed is slightly drier in texture with less flavor.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Linguini

I like the order the chicken linguini for lunch- typically its either this or the Chicken Scallopini for me here at Sesame Grill. This just might be "flavorless" for those who only enjoy bold flavors, but for those who enjoy a mixture of both, the dish has a white wine garlic sauce which is quite enjoyable- made with basil, chicken stock, garlic, and white wine.The abundance of cubed chicken breast, mushrooms, peppers (nowadays) and broccoli make it a balanced dish too.

Sesame Grill: Royal Salad

One time we decided to try one of their full sized salads- I think this one is the Royale Salad.Its essentially the same as their side salad but with more varieties of vegetables- balsamic vinegar, a variety of lettuces, and with a topping of squashes, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus on top. You'll probably want more dressing than what they already offer on the dish.

Sesame Grill: Clams in Garlic Wine Sauce

Back to an occasional specialty, Sesame Grill usually serves a appetizer of clams cooked in their white wine garlic sauce when they have an abundance of clams they want to serve for optimal freshness. Like the linguini clams, the clams are cooked in a white wine garlic sauce mixture, but along so the chef puts in some onions, tomatoes, and herbs for extra flavor. Being cooked only by themselves, the clams taste even better- more juicy and fresh. The sauce by the way is also fantastic dipped with bread. I do it every time when we order this dish!

Sesame Grill Fish

Here is yet another special fish dish, probably halibut. It was served with various vegetables and potatoes like usual with most dishes at Sesame Grill.

Sesame Grill Rigatoni Primavera

Another dish I like to order at Sesame Grill for its simplicity is the Rigatoni Primavera. Like the chicken linguini, this dish has the white wine garlic sauce, but instead of chicken and linguini, a variety of fresh vegetables and al dente linguini are substituted. It is a fresh and light dish that I really enjoy when I wish for something light on the palate.

Sesame Grill: Mushroom Soup

We once went to Sesame Grill for a Christmas special; the menu that day had changed to several prix fixe menu options. As an appetizer one of the options was a cream of mushroom soup. Having not eaten food due to a sickness for the days before this, this cream of mushroom soup was awfully delicious- blended smooth and creamy with numerous deep mushroom notes.

Sesame Grill: Crabcake/Salad Appetizer (Special Christmas Menu)

My dining companions went for a crab cake/salad appetizer. They said it was pretty good, although the crabcake was not the best that they've eaten.

Sesame Grill: NY Steak

For the main course there were some usual offerings like the New York Steak; I've commented previously on them before in my prior posts and yes, this time was just as good as the previous times I've had them. Sesame Grill is quite consistent on their steak quality. No, it's probably not as fantastic as those specialty steak houses but it is still quite tasty.

Sesame Grill: Pan Fried John Dory Fish

There was also another fish course that we ordered during the Christmas visit- I think this was a John Dory fish, which was pan fried so that the skin and the exterior of the meat was very crisp. The inside however was very tender and meaty.

Sesame Grill: Vegetable Rolls

I think you can start to see what items my companions and I like at Sesame Grill just by looking at how many repeat items on different photos you will see. Here are the vegetable rolls- plated on a pretty red and gold plate. It was very fitting at the time, as it was also the holiday season.

Sesame Grill: Sandabs

We like to try out items we never have had before, so on one occasion we ordered the sandabs. The fish was fleshy and tender accompanied by a creamy lemon butter caper sauce. Rich buttery mashed potatoes and a side of vegetables rounded out the dish.

Sesame Grill: Linguini with Tomato Sauce

The linguini with tomato sauce is yet another simple item on their lunch menu; just linguini with a bright tomato sauce poured over, seasoned with plenty of herbs.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Linguini

You see? Here's another repeat item! The chicken linguini is something I order quite often!

Sesame Grill: Chicken Dumplings
Sesame Grill: Chicken Dumplings Interior

Something that we don't order often is the chicken dumpling appetizer. We prefer the simple salad, clams, or vegetable rolls more. These are your typical dumplings but with a all white meat filling seasoned with herbs, topped with fried sweet potato curls and sweet and sour sauce. I believe that the flavors in the other dishes work better compared to this dish.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Scallopini

Back to something we do order often: the chicken scallopini on the lunch menu! There are three pieces of pounded chicken breast, which are then cooked in  robust marsala wine sauce with mushrooms and onions.On the side are your usual mashed potatoes and vegetables.

And silly focusing errors...I focused onto the veggies instead of the meat! It seems to always happen to me when taking pictures of shiny objects, the camera enjoys focusing onto somewhere else and I do not fix it beforehand.

Sesame Grill: Pork Chops

Their pork chops are not bad either (this one is on the early bird special). Tender and juicy on the inside, crispy with the breading outside.The simple tomato sauce reappears again here, providing an extra punch to the pork chops.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Linguini (Spaghetti Subbed)

Hey! Here is the chicken linguini dish again, but somehow the kitchen changed the linguini to spaghetti. Still, it was good as usual.

Sesame Grill: Vegetables in Garlic Wine Sauce

Something that we get as an special order are vegetables simply cooked with the white wine garlic sauce. My dining companion wanted to eat more vegetables, so the manager thought about something new: simply their rigatoni primavera dish, but instead of any rigatoni it would be all vegetables! It was a definite success as my dining companion likes to order only this dish now during every visit. After all, there are tons of vegetables in this dish: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, red peppers, snap peas, wood ear fungus are only some of them. In this dish, the sauce is also more concentrated in flavor, making the vegetables taste even more delicious.

Sesame Grill: Clam Chowder

Sesame Grill also has other soups to choose from. Here is the clam chowder- it is exceedingly creamy with minced pieces of celery, onions, and carrots as well as clams. Depending on if you are lucky or not, you just might get a whole lot of clams, or very few.

Sesame Grill: Minestrone Soup

The French Vegetable Soup has carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, rigatoni, tomato, and zucchini in a spicy tomato broth. It is similar in taste to a minestrone or to some, the borscht served at Hong Kong Style Cafes...but with higher quality ingredients.

Sesame Grill: Cream of Mushroom Soup

And the Cream of Mushroom has been consistently creamy with lots of mushroom flavor.

Sesame Grill: Salmon and Shrimp Linguini in Red Pepper Cream Sauce 1
Sesame Grill: Salmon and Shrimp Linguini in Red Pepper Cream Sauce 2

As for another early-dinner bird special we enjoy, the salmon and shrimp linguini in red pepper cream sauce is one of our favorites. The red pepper brings an interesting sweetness with the green beans/sugar snap peas to the dish. I find the salmon also much more tender in this dish; the shrimp are large and crisp.

Sesame Grill: Filet Mingon

Do you like this picture? I do. The filet mingon, also an early-bird special item, is similar in preparation to the New York steak, but with filet mingon attributes- even more tender and juicy.

Sesame Grill: Sandabs

Here is a better picture of the Sandabs.

Sesame Grill: Monkfish and Mussels

Another routine special- monkfish with mussels. We didn't really enjoy the monkfish however, it was a bit fishy but the rest of the dish was enjoyable.

Sesame Grill: Vegetables with Scallop in White Wine Garlic Sauce

Look! Another slight modification- the same vegetable dish I showed you earlier, but now with some scallops. These scallops were okay, but nothing too special.

Sesame Grill: Rigatoni with Chicken, Shrimp, and Mushrooms in Garlic Wine Sauce

Different ingredients from a base of rigatoni and white wine garlic sauce equals a different dish! Here's the rigatoni with shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables. I'm not sure of the name on the menu but this is a regular dinner menu item.

Sesame Grill: Clams in Garlic White Wine Sauce

Every time the white wine garlic clam appetizer is offered, we order it again! This dish of clams was just as tasty as the dish we had last time. After all, when they are selling this appetizer, it is when they have received more clams than they need- so they need to use more of the clams as soon as they can before the clams go bad. Sesame Grill then has a new item to sell, and the customers are happy. A win-win situation.
Sesame Grill: Shrimp Rigatoni

Another lunch item is the rigatoni with shrimp. I happened to order this accidentally when I was sick, so I ended up eating my companion's plate instead of my plate. I prefer the shrimp that are not butterflied like this though at Sesame Grill- those shrimp are much juicier in comparison.

Sesame Grill: Thai Ground Pork

More so recently Sesame Grill has been offering some Asian items on the menu. With an Asian proprietor and chef, why not? This was a thai-style ground pork dish; although it was definitely not authentic tasting it tasted good anyway- lots of soy sauce and fish sauce flavors. The fact that there were also plenty of vegetables on the side along with the mushroom and peppers in the ground pork mixture made this meal quite balanced.

Sesame Grill: Shittake Mushroom Rolls
Sesame Grill: Shittake Mushroom Roll Closeup

During another visit, our server told us of something new- shittake mushroom rolls! These were very tasty- crispy egg roll exterior with lots of fresh shittake mushrooms inside along with some herbs for more zing. The sauce was not the typical sweet and sour sauce we had grown accustomed to; instead it was a thai chili sauce that was sweet and pungent. Again, this was another simple dish but it executed very nicely.

Sesame Grill: Filet of Sole
Sesame Grill: Lobster Cream Sauce

If you want a really heavy/rich dish for lunch you will be exceedingly content with the filet of sole lunch special option! It's very heavy- a flavorful lobster cream sauce (you'll want more of it since it is easily absorbed by the mashed potatoes), lightly fried chunks of tender sole filet, a giant bed of buttery mashed potatoes and some green veggies. You'll want something acidic to cut out some of the richness- like tomato sauce or balsamic vinegar. I just put in some tomato sauce from my companion's linguini clams and even I was able to finish this rich dish.

Note on the rosemary sprigs. Since I'm assuming they would dump them if you don't use it, I suggest that you take the sprig home and attempt to plant it. We did, and now we have a gigantic rosemary plant. It really works!

Sesame Grill: Garden Salad (Current) 

Remember that I said earlier that I would show you the current version of the garden salad? Well here it is. Instead of the balsamic dressing there is now a mayo based dressing that does taste somewhat like what you would see in a Thai restaurant in the Valley area. But as you can see in the photo, it doesn't have that meyer lemon yellow tinge to it, so I am assuming they make this in house. Still tasty nevertheless.

Sesame Grill: Clam Chowder

On another nighttime visit I ordered the clam chowder again, and I was amused that there were plenty of clams this time, and the broth also had more clam flavor. The lights however were dim, and gave a very yellowish tinge onto the picture. I need to learn my white balance better....

Sesame Grill: Filet Mingon 1
Sesame Grill: Filet Mingon 2

Without the ideal lighting, even more interesting angles suffer from less than optimal colors. I prefer the older shot of this filet mingon dish; only if there were less distractions to the image! It is not exactly easy to wipe out all distractions when you do not have lots of room to work with in a restaurant.

Sesame Grill: Pork Chops

However, times do arise when the lighting is much better with more room to work around. Don't these lunch special pork chops look quite tasty? They were- very tender and meaty, and the cream based pan sauce made it taste even better along with the mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Scallopini

And look! I finally took a picture of the chicken scallopini that was somewhat decent! Lighting is key. And being shot so beautifully, it also was very tasty.

Sesame Grill: Rainbow Trout in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

Now for something new again- rainbow trout! It is usually offered as one of the items from the early dinner specials menu for "fish of the day." A large, thin filet of rainbow trout is seasoned with a spicy seasoning and then grilled and served with the lemon butter caper sauce you've seen already in the sandabs dish, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. I thought the spicy seasoning would clash with the butter sauce, but it actually works quite well with the tender, flavorful trout.

Sesame Grill: Linguini Clams (White and Red Sauce)

During my last visit we happened to order both versions of the linguini clams- red and white sauces. They match so well with each other!

Sesame Grill: Vegetable Curry (Special Order)

My dining companion who likes the vegetables with white wine garlic sauce decided to have curry sauce this time with the vegetables instead. It was quite interesting as the curry was very deep in flavor- lots of smoky notes.

Sesame Grill: Chicken Linguini

Having tried out the curry sauce multiple times before eating more of my chicken linguini, this time the chicken linguini felt bland. That's why you should start out with lightly flavored dishes before you progress to boldly flavored dishes. Nevertheless it was still consistently good as before.

Two desserts were given complimentary to us by the manager on this visit; it was a very nice gesture of her!

Sesame Grill: Tiramisu 1

Sesame Grill: Tiramisu 2

The first of the two desserts was their tiramisu, probably one of the most famous of their desserts; after all it had been featured in their old television advertisement! I enjoyed the tiramisu- it had plenty of chunks of cake soaked in a coffee mixture with the creamy marscapone cheese filling in between the chunks. The sauces on the bottom of the plate though, which were a creme anglaise (made in house) along with a chocolate sauce, made the tiramisu even better by providing more moisture while not adding too much to the sweetness. Topped with chocolate shavings, the tiramisu was truly a delight to eat.


Sesame Grill: Creme Brulee
Sesame Grill: Creme Brulee Interior
 
The second dessert was the creme brulee, which was quite fantastic. Served with a giant almond butter cookie crisp, the creme brulee was of a large portion. Unlike at Aureole this time we enjoyed the creme brulee and caramelized sugar topping together. While the sugar provided a deep sweetness, the creme brulee was very creamy along with the usual milk fragrance. It also had the addition of lemon zest which provided a fantastic note to the creme brulee. Excellent!

And interesting thing: The picture of the creamy smooth mixture with the sugar on top reset my memory card's counter on my D90 to DSC_0001.JPG. That means I've taken more than 10,000 pictures on my camera! (the camera reset its counter several times before I changed the settings) Wow!

So, after looking through 61 photos, what do you think? I like Sesame Grill as much as I have before- a consistently great restaurant when I want to have something a bit more out of the ordinary in the area. The serving sizes are plentiful and the food can range from usual preparations to something very creative.


Sesame Grill
308 E Huntington Dr
Arcadia, CA 91006-3746
Tel: (626) 821-0880

Sesame Grill on Urbanspoon


P.S. Check out some interesting video clips today on Youtube... multiple Othello trailers, that is. ^_^

Disclosure: Stated earlier in the post, but to iterate: Sesame Grill has paid some of the costs of the food (the two desserts); however the opinion stated is solely my own perspective and has not been altered.