- Thi N.
So what are the best places in Little Tokyo? I've seen threads on sushi and R23, but I'm looking for anything. High cuisine, low cuisine, katsu-don, udon, wildness and wonder.
I'm no expert on the area, but I've been once to Sushi Gen in Honda Plaza for traditional sushi and thought it was excellent. For years I ate regularly at Suehiro, a very reasonably-priced sort of Japanese coffeeshop, noodles, tempura, bento boxes, etc. And I also love Yaohan's supermarket and some of the other places in the Yaohan's complex.
Sushi Komasa is a must stop for us on amost every trip to LA. They have excellent Shrimp Tempura, also great Ankimo (monkfish pate') - not on the menu though, you need to ask for it.
Fugetsu-Do has good mochi
Curry House is pretty good - especially on one of there more chilly nights
Marukai has opened up in Weller Court - fun for browsing.
A couple of places whose names have escaped me:
The place that makes fishcake and such - great for munching and walking around.
The 2 Korean BBQ's
The Shabu-Shabu place
Also Yaohan has become Mitsuwa Marketplace - pretty much the same except I think they've closed the upper level where the dry goods were.
Little Tokyo is a great place for just browsing around.
Oomasa is my favorite place to go for a late-night sushi fix--they're open until 1 AM every night except for Tuesday, when they're closed. They've been a godsend when I've been working late and want some good sushi. Great people watching, too--a mixture of downtown bohemian artist types and Japanese locals. Oomasa's fish is good quality and fresh, reasonably priced (you get what you pay for), and they have a good selection (great ankimo). However, during "normal" restaurant hours I prefer to go a few blocks south to R23 for their vastly superior sushi.
on the top floor of the Yaohan/Mitsuwa complex at third and alameda are Tsukasa, a sushi bar discussed by myself and others in threads below and a decent ramen place. On the first floor is a pretty good udon place.
I like Suehiro for Udon. I'm not crazy about Sushi-gen or R-23, but obviously that's a matter of taste and others here like them fine. In the Honda Plaza (2nd St. between Central and Alameda) there's a Japanese style French patisserie, Louise's that has Japanese style iced coffees and the Japanese versions of French and other Western pastry. They're very intense and sweet but quite good, a bit smaller than the continental versions.
On the edge of the plaza, bordering on Alameda, is a Japanese beer hall whose name I forget. When you go in, it's woody, almost Swiss chalet-like (there used to be one on Sawtelle as well). They have beer and all kinds of snacks, grilled, fried, roasted, raw. You just order your bar food to go with the drinks. The grilled eggplant (nasu?) is good as is a shimeji mushroom dish. Experiment and have fun.
In the same plaza on the 2nd st side is a tempura house. It seems fine to me. That's what they do, that's all they do - tempura. You choose what you want, and you get it. I'm told that in japan, this is pretty standard. Sushi places, do sushi, yakitori places do yakitori, shabu shabu the same, kushikatsu the same, udon houses don't serve ramen, ramen houses don't serve udon. Let us know what you try and how you like it.
I'd go along with the Suehiro recommendation. It's kind of Tokyo coffee shop food--tonkatsu, grilled fish, potato salad, cole slaw, etc. soba and udon are good as are the donburis. I also like Mr. Ramen--good soup noodles in a place where there is always reggae playing (japanese rastafarian?). There used to be a place that served dynamite okonomyaki, but it closed. my favorite sushi bar is imai, which is right next to the japanese american museum. do omakase and you'll have a great meal (actually, their $7.95 sushi combo lunch is a great bargain, too). if you want chinese, of course, there's the mandarin deli on the south side of second. the korean bbq places will disappoint anyone who has eaten in koreatown, i'm afraid, though they're ok for a quick lunch. and though i haven't eaten shabu-shabu in quite a while, i still remember the thrill when they bring over that huge plate of thin-sliced beef.
He has lots of stuff, not on the order of Ginza, but still good. an omakase lunch, which will include lots of the usual stuff, plus usually either monkfish liver or uni, and usually ends with eel (both fresh and salt water, side-by-side in idential preparations), will run between $35 and $45. Don't know what dinner is. The quality of the fish is always outstanding.