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"Best" Japanese food around Sawtelle?

Ok, first off, I'm a beginner with Chowhound.... so go easy on me.

I know "Best" is different to everyone. So I would just like to hear all the Chowhounder's opinion, on which is their "Best".

There 's Blue Marlin, a interesting bistro.
There's Manpuku, a Yakiniku house.
There's Chabuya, a Ramen house.
There's Hurry Curry, another interesting bistro-style place.

There are countless Japanese restaurant around the Sawtelle neighborhood. Which one is your pick? :-)

Looking forward for everyone's input :-D

p.s. Other than Sawtelle... and J-Town, where else will you travel to just for some good Japanese food?

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    1. There's also:
      Orris with French-Japanese small plates
      Nanbankan (on Santa Monica just west of the 405) - yakitori bar
      If you're willing to travel 5 more minutes, there's Musha on Wilshire between 4th and 5th for Japanese Izakaya (I think that's the word for Japanese pub food, but I'm never really sure!)

      1. Good Japanese food can be found in the South Bay in places like Torrance and Gardena. Tons of Japanese people and lots of tasty restaurants.

        I live in downtown, so I rarely venture out of Little Tokyo for Japanese food, but every once in a while I head to Shin Sen Gumi or Honda-ya in Orange County for some good ole izakaya fun. I'm very excited about the prospect of another izakaya in Little Tokyo, especially one I trust.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MeAndroo

          What's the new izakaya place opening in J-Town?

          1. re: MeAndroo

            There's Taiwanese owned Izakaya in Rowland Height also (it's in the same plaza where Sam Woo and Maxim Cafe is in, at the plaza of Nogalas/Gale) , I tried it there a few times, but then of cuz it's not as awesome as the authentic Japanese style~

          2. For Sawtelle, I'd pick Kiriko. Some really great sushi. Haven't tried their cooked dishes, but plan to go back to taste more of what they have to offer.

            2 Replies
            1. re: slacker

              This one? http://www.kirikosushi.com/

              Cool! Now I have a sushi place on the list to try out around Sawtelle :-)

              1. re: kelvlam

                YES. Go, run, hurry! I did the sushi omakase lunch, and I can't wait to go back.

            2. I also like Furaibo, which a Izakaya style restaurant. It's right across the street from Blue Marlin, 2068 Sawtell Blvd..

              1 Reply
              1. re: puppychao

                I second Furaibo. For lunch it's a limited menu, revolving around chicken wings (teba sake). Fried wings (or other parts) dusted with the most addictive sprinkle of god knows what --slightly sweet, slightly spicy. Get the extra spicy --misleading, because it's Japanese spicy (not very). The korean bbq is tasty too. And I love their miso dressing on the cabbage salad that comes with their lunchs.

                For dinner, the chicken is still on the menu --don't miss it, but they have many delish small plates to share, a couple of my favs are the Halibut (can't remember if it had a special name, it's chunks of lightly fried halibut served in it's whole deep fried skeleton --yum), duck breast salad, tongue, miso or pork eggplant, and the char grilled squid legs, pork nigima... Enjoy!

              2. I suppose Chabuya is the best ramen place around Sawtelle, but it's not very good. You're better off driving to Mitsuwa Marketplace and getting ramen at Santouka. I think it's around Centinela and Venice...? There's also one in Torrance, and one in Costa Mesa.

                I don't eat around the Sawtelle area very often. I tend to go to Shibucho in Costa Mesa most often for sushi, and various places in the South Bay (Shin Sen Gumi, Gardena Ramen, Santouka) for ramen.

                5 Replies
                1. re: mrhooks

                  For Ramen, I go around the corner (on Olympic) to Ramen-ya. I've never been to Chabuya, but I have been to Asahi Ramen on Sawtelle, and didn't care for it. I think Ramen-ya's broths are more tasty. The Ajo, Mabo, and I can't remember the name of the spicy one with egg in it, delish. Enjoy!

                  1. re: debra

                    Since the OP was mostly asking about places in the Sawtelle area, Ramenya is worth a visit. But Ramenya is not nearly as good as Santouka.

                    The first time I went to Asahi Ramen, I thought they were okay, but more recently I thought they were terrible. I think they used Chinese chashu too.

                  2. re: mrhooks

                    I eat on Sawtelle a lot because of the lack of good chinese food on the westside. My recommendations are:
                    FuRaiBo: I second debra's choice of extra spicy chicken wings. Eggplant with meat sauce is yummy with plain rice balls to soak up the sauce. I think the baby halibut is called karei karaage. It's a lot of fish, though. Scallops with enoki mushrooms and clams in sake broth are also good for seafood lovers. The ground chicken skewers are also good. My fav fav favorite dish is the hanpen cheese, which sounds weird but is oh so good! When I'm having a bad day, that's all it takes to turn everything back around. :*)
                    Ramen-ya: This is my pick for ramen. It's not on Sawtelle but on Olympic a couple blocks west of Sawtelle. I like the spicy ramen with ground pork.
                    Manpuku: Oh my god, the beef is good here! The chicken leg is another must-try. And the marinade is so much better than that place on Pico. They also have good lunch specials.
                    Blue Marlin: The om-rice is really good here. Pasta is also very yummy. The ginger pork turned out dry. Avoid the clams; they had sand in them.
                    Sawtelle Kitchen: I've only been here twice. The chilean sea bass is good. I think portions tend to be small, though. I had to take my brother to Tito's afterwards because he was still hungry.

                    Hope this helps!

                    1. re: lemon seeds

                      Oh my god the Hanpen cheese, totally forgot about that. I read a description long ago that made me run out and try it. Something about it being like a Filet-O-Fish for adults. Yum! Thanks for the reminder.

                      1. re: debra

                        That was probably my pointer... hanpen cheese makes me feel like an exuberant, joyous kid (a kid with good taste).

                        My picks for Sawtelle (my neighborhood):
                        -Kiriko for sushi
                        -Sawtelle Kitchen for fusion-y Japanese/French/Italian; I like their curry better than Hurry Curry or Curry House
                        -Furaibo for izakaya
                        -Place Yuu for izakaya with a different attitude (and some not too shabby sushi)
                        -Gr/eats for reasonably priced Japanese fusion lunches; not the height of trendiness over taste one might expect from the Giant Robot folks - not completely knock your socks off either
                        -Bar Hayama for sake and a very large firepit
                        -Orris - if you are patient enough to wait for a table
                        -Beard Papa for cream puffs and molten chocolate cake

                        a little bit off of Sawtelle:
                        -Yabu for soba/udon and a mix of sushi and small dishes
                        -Raku for ??? (korean/japanese fusion???)

                        Enjoy. It is a great neighborhood to eat in - if you like Japanese food.
                        I have also read good things about the new sushi place called Yuzando, but I have yet to check it out. Soon come.

                  3. Blue Marlin, Orris, Kiriko

                    1. In Sawtelle? Hide Sushi.

                      1. I have to second the vote on Bar Hayama. I love the three different dining areas, each with a different feel. Any time I come to L.A., I go to wherever Toshi has his restaurant- hopefully it will stay where it is for a long time. I went when it first opened, and the service was still a little rough, but had amazing fish (as usual) and then went into the sake bar for dessert- cozy just like a Japanese sake bar/whiskey lounge should be. Their outdoor firepit is pretty amazing; I think it may win more people than the sushi bar, which given Toshi and his team's expertise will be a little different for them I'm sure. I didn't pay that night, but the menu was not over the top... though a few bottles of the really good sake (50 kinds I think) could probably change that quickly. I had a macrobiotic dish for kicks, and it may have been the best tofu I've ever had outside Japan. More details, and some photos are at their website www.bar-hayama.com, and I think L.A. Times just reviewed them too. It is still gathering its word of mouth at this point. Interested to hear what others think, too.