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Japanese restaurant in LA (Downtown or Pasadena area) to take my wife for birthday??

  • j

Looking for a Japanese restaurant near Downtown LA or the Pasadena area for a nice memorable birthday dinner...it is tomorrow. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

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      1. I just looked this up...menu looks really nice...what about the atmosphere? Somebody recommeded Sushi Roku in Pasadena..any thoughts???

        2 Replies
        1. re: jmp

          R-23's atmosphere is very modern and artsy (well, it's in the arts district). Can't say about Roku. I have a bias against eateries with the word Rock or a variant in the name, e.g., Wok N Roll. IIRC, Roku is a youth scene type place.

          1. re: mc michael

            I totally agree. Roku can be a little cheesy. :)

        2. For food and atmosphere, R-23 wins out over Roku in my book, especially for a birthday dinner. (However, I've not eaten at the Pasadena location, just the West Hollywood and Santa Monica restaurants.) R-23 is more sophisticated, while Roku tends to be a little more scene-y (not a compliment). Ultimately, it boils down to the kind of evening you'd prefer to have.

          1. Anyone had the omakase at Takumi yet? Certainly a nice space, and solicitous chef and staff....

            1. Avoid Sushi Roku.

              R-23 is a very good and solid option food-wise. Decor is a bit spartan and some (esp. those in a celebratory mood) might find the lack of decor a bit disconcerting. Still, the sushi and food there are quite good.

              If you want to consider Japanese fusion (e.g. Japanese French), consider both Maison Akira and Shiro in So. Pasadena.

              Maison Akira: www.maisonakira.com

              Shiro: www.restaurantshiro.com

              1. Go downtown. There is no good Japanese food in Pasadena; Sushi Roku is both overrated and overpriced. Downtown, in addition to R-23, consider Sushi Gen in Honda Plaza, and Kappo Ishito in Weller Court on the third floor. Kappo Ishito is expensive, but serves up excellent kaiseki cuisine, including sushi and cooked dishes. It is also quiet with excellent service. Gen is very popular, very noisy, has good sushi, but the cooked dishes leave something to be desired.

                1 Reply
                1. re: avacadosando

                  Was at Kappa Ishito Wed night. Great service, very authentic experience. The setting on the 3rd floor of Weller Court in Little Tokyo is sort of out of the way, and the space is not terribly romantic, but the food was really good and the sushi chef was great.

                2. Agree re: Kappo Ishito. This place is excellent. Make a reservation (and mention you want omakase) if you can, though it will probably work out fine if you can't.

                  Another place to consider is Thousand Cranes at the New Otani. I haven't had dinner there (only breakfast -- which was good) but it does have a nice view of the rooftop garden, and the service is very good. Still, I'd probably go with Kappo Ishito.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: HPLsauce

                    Thousand Cranes for food, service and ambience is probably as nice as it gets in LA. The rooftop scenery with a beautiful Japanese garden would be a memorable place. We held our parents' 50th anniversary dinner there. It was great. There are beautiful Japanese style rooms complete with tatami, sitting on the floor and overlooking the garden. Just a suggestion.

                    1. re: Ogawak

                      THousand Cranes
                      120 S. Los Angeles St.
                      Los Angeles, 90012

                      Atop the New Otani Hotel

                      1. re: Ogawak

                        I also enjoyed 1000 Cranes. It is very elegant and seemingly authentic (I've never been to Japan).

                        Another suggestion would be Kagaya. It's the best shabu shabu place in town. It's in the Honda Plaza on Alameda and Second. You'll need a reservation. I like eating shabu shabu because while very tasty, it also gives you something to do while you're eating. Kagaya is a top-notch place.

                  2. another vote for R-23. I've celebrated several birthdays and anniversaries there; the food is good (the sushi is not the best deal, especially with Sushi Gen just a few blocks away, but the cooked dishes and appetizers are great) and the atmosphere is understated and elegant. the service is great as well, though it can be a little slow sometimes. I wouldn't recommend Sushi Gen for a "nice" meal, though the high quality of sushi and sashimi is undeniable; each time I've gone, the atmosphere was so loud and hectic that my dining companions and I could barely hold a conversation. I'd strongly recommend against Sushi Roku: I've had nothing but surly service, oversalted entrees and overpriced, pitiful sushi.

                    1. Thank you to all that have posted! This has really helped me out!

                      1. honestly i think R-23 is highly overrated. the food is decent but not worth the prices...i'm not sure if you're paying premium to sit on a gehry-designed chair or the actual food. Either way, there's definately other sushi places that are better but might not compare in terms of atmosphere. R-23 is a good place for overall good food and atmosphere but if you want good simple sushi head over to 2nd street and try Hama Sushi. I still say it's the best in that area. And not nearly as expensive.
                        The soft shell crab is amazing.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: natcann

                          The kitchen dishes at R-23 are outstanding. Their fried oysters and dungeness crab salad is to die for.

                          The sushi is average to good but not great.

                          1. re: eiji

                            Agree with the hot dish recs above and would add a rec for the lobster tempura.

                        2. Avoid Sushi Roku in Pasadena - way overpriced - soggy tempura- gristly chicken - you're really paying for atmosphere (which agree w/hungrygirl - is pretty cheesy.)