For years, Sushi Ike was the best sushi bar in Hollywood, the place you went when you wanted to escape from the fishy neologisms of Geisha House and Katsu-Ya for something close to classic, Edo-style sushi. Ike-san was never a flashy sushi chef, but he was beloved for his skill at the early-morning fish markets, and his ability to less cut fish than to coax it into its ideal form. There was a certain gnashing of teeth when he left the Hollywood restaurant a year ago — and celebration among aficionados when he opened Sushi Kimagure Ike, a light, serene new sushi bar tucked into a train-station complex in Pasadena.
Ike's new place is perhaps a bit more formal than the last one. You are required to make a reservation when you eat there, and while there may be a menu, you are unlikely to see one: It is pretty strictly omakase, and not especially cheap. If you are craving caterpillar rolls or Philly rolls or spicy tuna rolls, you are better off at Wokcano up the street. But even a few months after opening, when it was so new that the first time I went they served sake in mugs because the proper cups had not yet come in, this is probably the best sushi bar Pasadena has ever seen, where halibut and tai and mackerel flash beneath Ike's knife, sweet shrimp begin the meal alive, and you can almost always talk him into making you a crab roll. If you were a regular at Ike, this is the point where you are wondering if Ike still does the grilled octopus tentacles. The answer, of course, is yes.