Kabuki, a restaurant known for approachable Japanese food, has put a twist on what we call Happy Hour. The masters of “sushi for all mankind” have created a Reverse Happy Hour menu for those who enjoy Happy Hour, but at a later time. Reverse Happy Hour is available Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sundays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Select drinks including a 20oz. draft of Kirin and well vodka, tequila or rum drop down to below $5. And if you order a second drink, it’s only $1! The food is also “order one at regular price and get the second for $1.”

I started with the Sesame Chicken and Mozzarella Tempura. The tempura was delightfully crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. And even though it’s cheese, which normally translates as grease, there was none to be found. The tempura, paired with a large, extra dry Sho Chiku Bai Sake, is perfect, and costs less than $10. The Sesame Chicken – with its golden exterior – didn’t even require the accompanying sauce.

The Reverse Happy Hour menu doesn’t skimp on choices, with about 22 sushi items to choose from, including albacore, snapper and freshwater eel. If you’d prefer a roll, there are just as many to choose from. Kabuki’s ability to not exclude non-fish/meat eaters is well executed with the respective asparagus, avocado and vegetable rolls.

While the Reverse Happy Hour is available only at Kabuki Old Pasadena for now, the other Kabuki locations offer traditional Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Open since 1991, Kabuki’s success comes from its ability to combine delicious cuisine with an atmosphere that is lively but not overpowering. The casual atmosphere is inviting, with lush red and black interiors. While it is Asian-themed, the decor is understated because your experience is truly about the food.

Kabuki’s numerous awards include “Best Happy Hour” and “Best Local Family Restaurant.” The fact that there are about 13 locations throughout California, Arizona and Nevada just proves that Kabuki’s commitment is to provide you with a pleasant experience.

The Tokyo Mojito made with Asian Shochu and sake, the Saketinis and KA-Bomb are very popular. KA-Bomb is a 22oz. bottle of beer served with a small bottle of hot sake. This goes well with the Spicy Tuna Salad and Alaskan (baked salmon) roll.

The Lotus, baked lobster on top of a California roll with eel sauce, made me change my mind about California rolls (not usually a fan!). Should you choose to dine during regular hours, you are still going to enjoy great food at quality prices.

Served with soup, salad and rice, the traditional Chicken Teriyaki is glazed but not overtly sweet. The seasoned charbroiled chicken (or beef) can also be ordered as a combination for under $16.

My favorite Kabuki items are the signature dishes – Miso Marinated Black Cod, marinated and roasted but maintaining that silky, buttery texture that’s crucial for a stellar black cod. Also, the brown rice Grilled Shrimp Risotto is interesting. Traditionally, risotto is made with Arborio rice, but the nuttiness of the brown rice is what sets it apart and makes it a treat to eat.

Also, Kabuki’s noodles are not to be ignored. The delicate Soy Ramen served with Napa cabbage, sprouts and asparagus is balanced and not too salty. Clam Cha Soba Pasta is made with green tea noodles, sautéed clams and chili peppers – spicy and flavorful.

I can’t hide behind the “I don’t do desserts” line anymore, especially with Kabuki’s Hazelnut Cappuccino Torte with ganache and buttercream. The torte, made up of four layers of toasted hazelnuts, is light in texture but heavy in flavor. Perfect for people who are lactose intolerant.

And how can you pass up Banana Tempura with caramel and vanilla ice cream? Just ask for no ice cream, and you’re all set.



For more information, call (626) 568-9310 or visit kabukirestaurants.com.