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Recs for Japanese restaurant? (birthday, Westside, toddler...HELP!)

Hi everyone!

My birthday is this weekend and I'm trying to find a place to go with my family. I would like Japanese food, but the following challenges exist:

1) My 21 month-old nephew will be a member of the dinner party.
2) My sister is pregnant and not eating sushi, so if we go to a sushi place, I need one that has decent cooked dishes.
3) Not too horribly, astronomically expensive.

I live in West LA, so would like someplace fairly local. I'm at my wit's end, so any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. I think Sawtelle might serve your needs because you can dine on the patio at Orris or perhaps 2117 across the street from Orris. Both offer a variety of fare.

    1. Mako
      225 S Beverly Dr
      Beverly Hills CA

      1. There used to be a dumpy restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA called Tenjin - closed and then opened under new management and it's called Sasaya (11613 Santa Monica Blvd.). Much better than its original incarnation. EN Sushi - a few blocks west of this is also dependable and not too outlandish. I think Mako is wonderful but a bit expensive.

        1. Musha on Wilshire in Santa Monica.

          1 Reply
          1. Yabu on pico meets all of your above criteria. They have fresh cooked food, udon and noodles, side dishes, as well as sushi.

            Another choice might be Furaibo on Sawtelle.

            or 2117 on Sawtelle for a French/Japanese fusion flavor.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alice

              I have been to Yabu and Furaibo numerous times (some of my local walk to places) and I have never seen a child that young in either place. That isn't to say that they wouldn't be welcome, but I've never seen it.

              Yabu is a pretty small space, so maybe not the best choice.
              Furaibo, on the other hand, is a pretty noisy place on the weekends and should be a pretty comfortable place.

              I always recommend Kiriko when people want sushi and good cooked items. The food is very good - just had a great sushi lunch there today. But, it too is a very small space and it is hard to fit a decent sized party in there (except maybe for that tatami space in the back???).

            2. What do pregnant Japanese women eat?

              1. Thanks everyone for the quick replies! I'm going to read up on all of these. You guys are the best. :)

                I have heard of some of these places and have wanted to try them, but wasn't sure if they were toddler-friendly. So this is encouraging!

                5 Replies
                1. re: Cool_A_Coo

                  PLease define "toddler friendly" when it comes to restaurants.

                  1. re: Hunter

                    I am one of those childless-by-choice people who glare angrily at people who bring their bawling, annoying, loud and unruly children to a restaurant that isn't Chuck-E-Cheese, Applebee's, or Islands -- Houston's seems to be the DMZ, IMHO -- anything "nicer" is out.

                    That said, I have seen a few toddlers at Musha and not cared one wit:
                    A) Musha is loud enough they can't bug me, and
                    B) I have usually drank enough pitchers of Musha's excellent beer to be beyond caring about the rugrats running round.

                    To me Musha is toddler-friendly as hell.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      I worry about any restaurant that hands out crayons -- and I once had small kids.

                      1. re: Hunter

                        NAGAO!!! This is THE place...Have been going there with my daughter since she was in utero. Highchairs available, and great cooked dishes!! 26th and San Vicente.

                      2. re: Ciao Bob

                        I don't know anything about Musha, but in response to another post, I don't think Mako would be good for a party with a 21 month old.

                  2. I would highly reccomend Hide on Sawtelle. Great sushi that is reasonably priced and a number of cooked dishes as well. Try the Dynamite it is fantastic, im getting hungry just thinking about it! It is also definitely kid friendly, you will always see little ones inside. i actually used to go their when I was a toddler with my parents. Probably one of the most authentic and tasty sushi places in LA.

                    1. U-Zen on Brockton and Santa Monica Blvd. Meets all your requirements. Just there with my one-month-old grandson. He didn't eat the restaurant food, but the staff made a big fuss over him, and there are always kids there at the sushi bar and tables.

                      1. I agree with the Musha suggestion. It meets all your criteria, and has a fun environment suitable for a birthday.

                        While I like Hide, I don' think it's a good fit for your needs. First, I don't think cooked items are their forte. Second, it's not very festive for a birthday celebration, and the servers really try to rush you out quickly. Thirdly, and most importantly, it tends to be really busy, and it doesn't take reservations (also cash only, FYI). You will likely have a long wait for a larger party, and I wouldn't want to stand around waiting for 45 minutes with a toddler who will likely get very restless, and a pregnant woman who may have no place to sit down.

                        Orris also doesn't take reservations, but at least the wait isn't usually as long as Hide, it has much better service and atmosphere, and the cooked items are excellent.

                        1. I highly recommend UZEN--not that they have the best Japanese food but for your party situation. We always go there with kids. They have a variety of food to make everyone happy--sushi, cooked food, even udon and soba. Ask for the big communal table in the middle. It's fun to be able to see each other around the big table.

                          I strongly disagree with HIDE. I once brought my then 2-year-old daughter and a waitress scolded her for playing with the chopsticks. It is cramped and you can't really linger and "party" there. They would want to get you out the door as soon as you finish eating. And you feel pressed to do so knowing tons of people are waiting for your table.

                          Happy Birthday!