Question: The King’s Head? You write about chips, and the
best place you can come up with is Ye Olde fugging King’s fugging Head? I like
the pub all right, but if I had wanted to find out about the King’s fugging
Head I could have consulted, I don’t know, every other restaurant critic in
the history of L.A. You’re disappointing me, Mr. Gold.
—John, Eagle Rock
Answer: I like the King’s Head! But if you venture
into the arcade across from Vroman’s in Pasadena, the arched one from the 1920s
that houses various art galleries, the Yucatecan restaurant El Portal and a
dusty bookstore that seems to specialize in unread old sets of Kipling, you
will find AJ’s Fish & Chips in the corner of the promenade that shrinks
the farthest from the sun. AJ’s cook and waitresses are Thai, and the chips,
French fries, are just dreadful, formerly frozen shoestrings that could use
a little more time in the oil. The tartar sauce seems made by somebody who’s
never tasted tartar sauce. The strongest drink on the menu is black Thai iced
tea. There may not be a dartboard within miles. But the fish itself, northern
cod breaded and fried to a golden crunch you may associate more with Southeast
Asia than with the Sceptered Isle, is nothing short of superb. And at AJ’s you
can also get a plate of ground chicken sautéed with green chiles and Thai basil
that blows the roof off any steak-and-kidney pie you’d care to name. If that’s
what you have in mind. 696 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 11, Pasadena, (626) 795-3793.
Got a burning culinary question? Ask Mr. Gold by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.