Searching for a spot to chomp on yummy sea creatures in a bright, trendy, laidback atmosphere? Look no further than charming Old Pasadena where Prawn is the freshest kid on the block, backed by one of L.A.’s most celebrated chefs.
Prawn has been the beloved seafood stall in DTLA’s Grand Central Market for years: where everyone can grab quick, high-quality seafood dishes on-the-go. It was here diners could order super fresh paella, fried seafood sandwiches, mixed salads and stews to chow on in the bustling food court of Grand Central Market. Thanks to its continued popularity and success in DTLA, executive chef Mark Peel decided to open a sit-down restaurant with the same name and concept.
Chef Mark Peel is a local celebrity who’s worked and co-founded many of California’s most beloved restaurant institutions like Chez Panisse, Spago, Campanile, Ma Maison and La Brea Bakery. Chef Peel departed from fine dining in a fortuitous move in order to create a more casual and accessible dining concept focused on fresh, locally-sourced seafood. With Prawn he’s succeeded in bringing together the best parts of California coastal living: flavorful and multi-cultural dishes, fruity and refreshing drinks and a bright, laidback atmosphere made for good company.
Prawn just recently opened its second location among the picturesque boutiques and restaurants tucked-away in downtown Pasadena. Old Pasadena always makes for a perfect day of shopping and lunching with friends. And it’s a quick twenty-minute drive from central L.A. Pasadena also happens to be the hometown of Chef Mark Peel, which makes the opening of this location even more exciting.
Prawn Pasadena maintains all of the signature menu items from the original location, but the restaurant also boasts a curated raw bar plus happy hour menu. There’s a wide range of entree options from flavorful seafood stews, fried seafood sandwiches, eclectic salads and grain bowls for vegetarians. Staples that you must try include the Thai Lobster Roll which heaps lobster cooked in a curry broth on a soft roll with spicy coleslaw. Hearty stews include Spicy Scallops which come in a shrimp broth with peanuts and roasted vegetables over brown rice (very tasty and filling, but spicy!). You can find popular seafood classics like Spanish paella and Seattle Fish Stew with shrimp, squid, clams, mussels and salmon in lobster broth. Plus the finger food, like home fried potatoes and oysters make for an exciting happy hour even when you’re not looking for a sit-down meal.
What makes the food at Prawn so filling and flavorful are the delicious broths in which seafood is cooked and savvy techniques used by Chef Peel:
“Utilizing centuries-old pressure cooking technology to capture and steep the flavors, Chef Peel crafts dimensional dishes that are both ingredient- and flavor-forward. Extracting deep flavor, Chef Peel then finishes his dishes in tilting steam kettles, in an evolutionary cooking process that expedites the simmering process and ultimately renders a richer taste and more complex flavors.”
The restaurant is bright and airy with murals of fish and sea creatures in happy shades of ocean blue. It has a similar style to the artsy modern seafood restaurants in Lisbon like Sea Me and A Ceveicheria. Though the space isn’t super expansive, it doesn’t feel cramped or crowded. It provides the perfect level of social ambiance without forgoing intimacy.
The outdoor seating area in the patio is also an uber-enticing feature. It’s situated in the courtyard of Miller Alley and surrounded by pretty boutiques in a rustic brick low-rise. The patio is perfect for having a glass of wine during lunch or happy hour and enjoying lively conversations in the open air.
With light, happy ambiance and incomparable seafood dishes, there’s no reason not to try Prawn in Pasadena. Treat yourself to a tangy glass of passion fruit lemonade and a fried shrimp and oysters roll. Or go for a simple platter of oysters and white wine. No matter what you order, Prawn promises to be a fun, scrumptious meal from under the sea.