By Emily G. Peters
In a 132-year old city with restaurant loyalty that runs just as deep, it takes a special restaurant in Pasadena to offer something to get the locals going. Bone Kettle’s pumped-up Indonesian cuisine has done just that.
“Bone Kettle came on the heels of our first business’s success,” said executive chef, Erwin Tjahyadi. “We wanted to do an elevated take on Southeast Asian food that is accessible, creative and set in a space that has a lot of history so we can build new histories of our own.”
No stranger to the area, Tjahyadi graduated from Pasadena’s now defunct Le Cordon Bleu branch and went on to find fame with Komodo, his fast-casual concept. Contrastingly, Bone Kettle swaps speed for slow-simmered noodle soups that make good on wisdom passed down by grandmothers everywhere: if you want your soup to taste better, keep the bones in.
But there’s more to Tjahyadi’s menu than what’s in the kettle.
“We always pride ourselves in bold new dishes based on what’s in season and my current inspirations. As we head towards summertime, we’re looking forward to lighter and fresh seafood additions to the menu—Hamachi, cockles, clams, crab dishes,” said the chef. “We also have wonderful new Japanese sake selections coming in as well as sparkling wines, all curated by our wine director Alexander Goldfisher, former wine director from Republique.”
While Tjahyadi heads up the kitchen with sous chefs Chris Ruiz and Luz Rios, it’s a family affair up front with his dad and brother running the show. Blending Bone Kettle’s relaxed Pasadena sophistication with its Indonesian roots makes the cuisine decidedly unique—and one that bears more exposure.
“The fact that there isn’t much elevated Southeast Asian cuisine is a tremendous obstacle. People don’t often associate our foods as high quality, so that is a huge paradigm shift,” said Tjahyadi.
Yet the chef’s encouraged by what he views as a return to more cultural dishes.
“Southeast Asian flavors—Filipino, Indonesian and Vietnamese food trends—those flavors definitely inspire our dishes,” he said. “We love the fact that we get to represent a very different perspective on Asian flavors; I think it’s definitely time for us to embrace it.”
So are the locals buying it? The short answer is yes—but you should try Bone Kettle for yourself. The beers are cold, the titular broth poured tableside and the chicken wings so spectacularly crunchy they nearly steal the show. And while some staples remain in good supply, locals would do well to revisit for new culinary experiences.
“Our menu changes pretty frequently and it’s truly by customer responses: what’s in season and what’s inspiring me at the moment. It’s a really organic process,” said Tjahyadi. “We’re constantly inspired by all of the positive feedback and responses—it’s been fantastic. Feedback from our customers is a lifeline for our sustainability.”
Bone Kettle is located at 67 North Raymond Avenue in Old Town Pasadena and will be featured at the upcoming Masters of Taste, Lucky Rice, Clean Food Fest and LA Times Food Bowl events. Contact the team at www.bonekettle.com | 626-795-5702 and follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @bonekettle.