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Indonesian Small Plates Are the Star of Pasadena’s Bone Kettle

The bone broth restaurant gets the B-Rod treatment

Bone broth noodle soup at Bone Kettle
Erica Allen

This week, Besha Rodell heads to Pasadena to review Bone Kettle, the new restaurant by Komodo’s Erwin Tjahyadi. The Weekly critic begins the review by stating, “not since artisan toast has a food trend been so widely derided.” That food trend, is, of course, bone broth, something that is considered “at once too simple and too pretentious. That's a bad combination.”

For what its worth, Bone Kettle’s “meat water” is pretty damn good:

And the soup is great! Local company Sun Noodles provides the round, slightly bouncy, ramen-style noodles, and the broth, made from boiling beef and spices for 36 hours, is milky and rich and comforting. It's more like tonkotsu broth than pho, though it's made from beef instead of pork, and it's far less fatty and slightly more restrained. Each bowl comes with sliced fresh red chilies and a sprinkling of microgreens, and is perfectly satisfying all on its own.

The meats you're encouraged to order on the side would be almost superfluous if they weren't so good, particularly the beef rib, which is a fiscal commitment at $39 but nonetheless sells out most nights. It's tender and rich and deeply, deeply beefy. The fatty brisket, too, is a wonder of falling-apart braised meat with crisp edges. [LAW]

But B. Rod is much more interested in the Indonesian flavors in the small plates:

These dishes are the work of a modern American chef in the way they're composed, both visually and in terms of flavor. But many of them are also unmistakably Indonesian, so much so that they induced unexpected memories of meals I had in Indonesia more than 30 years ago, when I was a child [LAW]

Ultimately, it seems as if the focus on the bone both trend did a disservice to the eatery, which may have fared better if “the modern Indonesian small-plates aspect had been touted as its main selling point.” Bone Kettle scores two stars out of five.