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Mar 16, 2008 05:34 PM

Best IZAKAYA restaurant in Little Tokyo?

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!!

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  1. 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.

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

      1. re: J.L.

        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.

          Appreciate that!

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

          1. re: Liquid Sky

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

          2. re: J.L.

            Hey J.L.

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

            1. re: exilekiss

              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.

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

          3. 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

              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.

                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.

              2. re: igj

                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

                  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. 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. 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

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

                    1. re: Liquid Sky

                      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.

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

                        1. re: J.L.

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

                        2. re: Liquid Sky

                          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.

                        3. re: SecretAsianMan

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