Revisit to izakaya Haru Ulala in Little Tokyo
After reading some unflattering recent reviews on this board about Haru Ulala, I decided to check and see if the quality went down. As far as their specialty items and the items I usually get, it hasn't changed much.
Slow cooked stewed items are Haru Ulala's specialty.
Here's the secret treasure map from their extensive menu. Getting at least #1-4 is a must.
1) Buta Kakuni - Slow cooked pork belly in a sweet soy and ginger. Better flavor than Izayoi which is prepared well but doesn't have enough sweetness and ginger flavor.
2) Buri Daikon - Stewed Yellowtail with a big chunk of daikon that is so soft can be cut with your chopstick.
3) Short Rib Daikon - Stewed Short Rib so tender and melts in your mouth.
4) Fried Camembert Cheese - It's like a little wedge of Brie breaded in Panko and served with tonkatsu sauce.
5) Grilled Oysters and/or Fried Oysters
6) Kurobuta Sausage - Delicious Black Pork sausage that looks like Hilshire Farms Lil' Smokies.
7) Soba Salad - Green tea noodles with mixed greens in a ponzu dressing.
8) Ochazuke - Almost like rice porridge in a fish broth with toasted nori and your choice of ume plum, salmon, or grilled mentaiko (spicy cod roe). Make sure you add the wasabi and mix it into the broth giving it a wonderful flavor.
9) Tsukune - Chicken meatball crispy on the outside tender on the inside with a delicious sauce.
10) Conch Sashimi - If you like Mirugai or Aoyagi, then conch is great as sashimi and this is the only place to get it. If you don't like chewy clams, then it's not for you.
11) Grilled Potato/Butter - Better than any baked potato I've ever had. Grilled then slit in the middle with a pat of butter and salted with green seaweed flakes.
Just my 2 cents. From the previous reviewer I don't like that spicy tuna tempura item either.
Hello, jps! I think I am "the previous reviewer" that you mention in your post. HOWEVER, we did not order any of the items which you list, so we had a completely different taste of this restaurant. Some of the items you have listed do seem quite interesting, so perhaps we just did not know what to order????
I also mentioned that it was not as sanitary as I like; the sushi chef was perspiring over our food and was wearing a very dirty T-shirt. It was not until well into our visit that they finally turned on the air conditioning to give everyone a cool breath!
We did have some green noodles that were very difficult to eat because they stuck together in a single glob. The other items were not memorable or exceptional.
I would much prefer a visit to Izayoi if I am in that neighborhood for dinner...no contest for me.
they are really two very different restaurants - izayoi is much more "fine dining" and haru ulala is izakaya in the more traditional sense, of being a bar with food.
i agree with jps - haru ulala has its strengths, and the dishes he lists are great. but the attraction is the atmoshere and the camaraderie of the place. i don't think i've eaten there without striking up a conversation or trading drinks with someone i've just met.
that doesn't always happen at izayoi, although i have lost an evening there being fed soju and grapefruit by a regular at the bar.
I have tried most of the secret treasures listed above and look forward to trying the ones I haven't, but would like to add a few more of my faves:
grilled chicken wing
grilled yellowtail collar
grilled enoki mushrooms
$10 pitchers of beer
I have also struck up wonderful conversations with people at the horsehoe bar including fellow chowhounds!
pitchers are $6 at the Musha (at least the location in Torrance)
*AND* there's a communal table in the middle of the room...
While I agree that Haru Ulala had decent homey dishes, there was very little creativity involved in the food-- then again, the emphasis is on drinking, talking and comfort (food) rather than flair (not of the Office Space variety) and flavor, I suppose.
I remember going there a couple weeks after they opened on Christmas Eve (or maybe a night or two before) a few years ago. It was just me, a friend and two other guys at the bar. Everything was in Japanese so I had a ask for recs and they were all pretty good. The food was slow coming, but thats expected at a brand new restaurant. I'm glad to hear they're doing well! Hopefully I'll go back once I get out of Indiana... Post brings back memories.