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Best IZAKAYA restaurant in Little Tokyo?

Liquid Sky Mar 16, 2008 05:34 PM

Hi Everybody,

I want to bring an out-of-towner for an izakaya restaurant experience in Little Tokyo. Which would you recommend:

Haru Ulala

Atmosphere is of equal importance to food quality.

Thank you!!

  1. SecretAsianMan Mar 25, 2008 11:22 PM

    Agreed that Raku and Izayoi are the best. No doubt about it. Quality food and reasonable prices. Raku's monkfish kara-age is the object of a great deal of obsession. Izayoi's duck and eggplant blows the mind.

    7 Replies
    1. re: SecretAsianMan
      Liquid Sky Mar 27, 2008 07:12 PM

      Sounds good. Which one has a "livelier" environment? We don't mind loud music, etc.

      1. re: Liquid Sky
        J.L. Mar 27, 2008 09:11 PM

        Izayoi is brighter. Raku is more subdued (think jazz in the background). Food is excellent at both.

        By the way, Raku features okonomiyaki on its menu - does that tip the food scale for you?

        1. re: J.L.
          Liquid Sky Mar 28, 2008 07:19 PM

          Thanks, JL. No, I'm not familiar with OKONOMIYAKI. What's that?

          1. re: Liquid Sky
            J.L. Mar 30, 2008 01:36 PM


          2. re: J.L.
            slacker Apr 22, 2008 03:01 PM

            Haru Ulala also has okonomiyaki on its menu. Personally, I don't care for that, but they've got it.

          3. re: Liquid Sky
            gpescador Apr 22, 2008 11:30 AM

            Tough call - i think it depends on what you're looking for. i'm starting to find the offerings at Raku limited, but really, nothing beats that environment between 11 and 2, when random crowds come in to chow and drink. the funky back-lit circle cut-outs certainly take you someplace far away from LA. it's the cheapest vacation i can think of. And that Oxtail soup!

            But Izayoi is hands down the stronger of the two on food. it's a bit bright, and the ceiling is high, so it's tough to feel cozy. But it's usually more active.

            If it's eating superb food in the midst of energy, go Izayoi. if it's slipping out of LA on a wooden Japanese space ship for comfortable food and drink, go Raku.

          4. re: SecretAsianMan
            Diana Apr 22, 2008 12:20 PM

            duck and eggplant?!?! too good to be true!

          5. h
            hazelrah Mar 18, 2008 01:20 AM

            Ebisu isn't mentioned much on here and the place always seems ominously empty. But I still enjoy the food every time I go, especially the grilled items.

            1. i
              igj Mar 16, 2008 09:03 PM

              OK, this may sound odd, but I was getting my haircut at a Japanese salon on Sawtelle and my stylist - a Japanese woman who lives in Little Tokyo - told me I had to go to Haru Ulala because it was her favorite place to hang out/eat/drink in her neighborhood. So, at least someone who lives around there loves that place.

              5 Replies
              1. re: igj
                J.L. Mar 16, 2008 09:40 PM

                I'm not as big on atmosphere, as long as food is good. So, I go to Haru Ulala all the time.

                1. re: J.L.
                  condiment Mar 19, 2008 09:57 AM

                  I'm not sure what you mean by ``atmosphere,'' but it would seem to me that Haru Ulala has more of it than pretty much any izakaya in town - it's funky, friendly, loud, young, a little stinky and very, very Japanese. The cooking at Izayoi is of a much higher caliber, but somehow I usually end up at HU.

                  1. re: condiment
                    J.L. Mar 19, 2008 03:09 PM

                    Tru 'dat

                2. re: igj
                  Liquid Sky Mar 17, 2008 05:57 PM

                  I've heard good things about Haru Ulala. People get crazy over their fried camembert.

                  I'm also craving things like oysters, crab salad, black cod... you know, some non-sushi Japanese food.

                  1. re: Liquid Sky
                    tatertotsrock Mar 17, 2008 10:46 PM

                    I love IZAYOI and for the "non-sushi Japanese food." they have all kinds of goodies...2 versions of pork belly (each amazing!), 2-3 versions of tongue (all really good), some great croquettes, some shrimp and chili dip thing that I love, not too big a fan of the sting ray fin stuff, but they have so many tastey tid bits. Not some super cool and noisey place but I'm more interested in food and the people I eat with always make any place I go to feel like a party.

                3. J.L. Mar 16, 2008 06:09 PM

                  My 2 cents: If atmosphere is important, then I'd rank them as follows:

                  4. FuRaiBo (good teba saki)
                  2 (tie). Haru Ulala (food is good, atmosphere is okay)
                  2 (tie). Honda-Ya (atmosphere is good, food is okay)
                  1. Izayoi (my favorite of the 4)

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: J.L.
                    Liquid Sky Mar 16, 2008 07:54 PM

                    JL: I appreciate it! When I say good atmosphere, I was thinking, you know, fun and festive. Thanks!

                    1. re: J.L.
                      J.L. Mar 17, 2008 10:26 PM

                      Oh my.... I have to revise my ranking, because I just tried Raku in Little Tokyo's Honda Plaza (2 doors down from Sushi Gen) for the first time tonight.

                      I'm glad to say that it's every bit as good as its sister location in West LA.

                      So now, ranking is:
                      3. FuRaiBo
                      2 (tie). Haru Ulala
                      2 (tie). Honda-Ya
                      1 (tie). Raku (excellent food)
                      1 (tie). Izayoi

                      AND... Raku has kitchen last call at 1AM!!! Awesome for us "relatively" late-nite diners!

                      1. re: J.L.
                        Liquid Sky Mar 17, 2008 10:45 PM

                        Appreciate that!

                        What did you order that you liked/disliked at Raku?

                        1. re: Liquid Sky
                          J.L. Mar 18, 2008 12:25 AM

                          Okonomiyaki, enoki sauteed in butter, shochu, fresh daily specials... it's all good

                        2. re: J.L.
                          exilekiss Mar 18, 2008 10:20 PM

                          Hey J.L.

                          Thanks for the info. Do you have an address for this new Raku location?

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            J.L. Mar 19, 2008 03:34 AM

                            It's in Honda Plaza in Little Tokyo (corner of Central & 2nd); Raku is 2 doors down from the famous Sushi Gen.

                          2. re: J.L.
                            rameniac Mar 25, 2008 11:33 PM

                            oo nice! i keep forgetting about honda plaza lol...

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