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Exploring Sawtelle

Hey everyone,

Since the New Year (part of my resolution) I have been going a whole bunch of new places to eat. I know Sawtelle has plenty of places to go, but I don't really know what to eat at each place. I was wondering if you all can suggest a place or two (or more) and put your top 2 or 3 recommendations at each place.

Thank you all!

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  1. Hide sushi, really good no frills sushi...always very fresh..closed Mondays...cash only
    Asahi Ramen across from Hide I like the shio ramen , sliced pork and gyoza
    Sawtelle Kitchen

    1. Sawtelle restaurants often mentioned on this board from north (starting at Santa Monica Blvd.) to south (ending at Olympic Blvd.):

      Nanbankan** (OK not really on Sawtelle but 1 block west, on Corinth)
      Cafe Dahab* - Fuul
      Bar Hayama** - Lobster bisque
      Mizu 212* - Wagyu beef shabu shabu
      Chabuya** - Zenbu ramen
      Robata-Ya*
      Orris
      Sawtelle Kitchen
      Asahi Ramen
      Tofu-Ya
      GR/eats*
      Hide Sushi
      FuRaiBo* - teba saki
      Place Yuu*** - Mori-san's Osaka style battera, buta kakuni
      Volcano Tea
      Restaurant 2117* - Kobe meatloaf
      Hurry Curry
      Ramen Kinchans
      Manpuku
      Crepe Nazi* - read the menu carefully, else you will feel the full wrath of the staff!
      Little Hong Kong Cafe
      Pho-Reign
      Tofu Villa*
      Bear Papa's*/Mousse Fantasy - strawberry cream puffs
      Curry House* - stone bowl curries
      Kiriko*** - Ken-san's omakase
      Cake House*
      Pinkberry - yawn.
      Zip Fusion - ick.
      Daichan Kaiten Sushi* - fun time with conveyor belts
      Yashima* - like Mishima, but it's Yashima
      Crepes Dusigne*** - Grand Marnier crepe, or Nutella crepe
      Ramen-Ya* (OK not on Sawtelle, but a few blocks west on Olympic)
      Raku*** (again, worthy of mention but not on Sawtelle) - tempura shrimp with shiso leaf

      * = I liked it the one or two times I went
      ** = I go often
      *** = I'm putting the owners' kids through college

      7 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        Great list, J.L.! I am so laughing because I often feel like I am supporting many chefs' families in this town!!!! Sometimes, it's my greatest pleasure, and sometimes not!

        I might mention that I think Orris becomes better with time, and the Robata-Ya next door is pretty good as well.

        Each place you mentioned -- and your list is The Sawtelle Bible! -- offers something different. I would advise the original poster to begin with Nanbankan, #1, and visit all of them! The competition is fierce, and every one of these places is an interesting experience as it contrasts to the places on either side of it.

        1. re: J.L.

          I went to Yashima in October when I was working up on the Westside and was so, so disappointed -- it used to be really, really good (we used to eat there weekly when I worked at Olympic and Purdue) and now it's on the bad side of mediocre.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I think Asahi Ramen is soo overrated....kind of tasteless....Chabuya's Zenbu broth is far superior.

          2. re: J.L.

            Orris still holds its delicious standard though I think it's gotten pricier fast.

            I like Hurry Curry slightly better than Curry House.

            Absolutely stay away from Zip Fusion.

            Kiriko for simple, clean, dependable sushi. Though again, the last 2x I've gone, they've disappointed me with their simple tuna. How could you mess up tuna?

            Little HK cafe is decent, it rivals Hop Woo a couple blocks down.

            Asahi Ramen... I don't know how this place gets such a cult following. I've been over a dozen times throughout the years and well... it never had a redeeming quality to me.

            Hide's great. Service not so great.

            Have to agree with the little crepe nazi place... it's amazing this place is doing well. It's dirty, unfriendly and most importantly, not even good.

            Mizu is overrated, imo.

            I never could complain about RobataYa but never really felt the need to praise anything either.

            PhoReign, try it if you really must have Vietnamnese and can't drive over to San Gabriel.
            Yogurtland is much preferable to Pinkberry.

            1. re: J.L.

              You seems to have overlooked the "every part but the cackle" Yakitoriya.

              1. re: New Trial

                D'oh! I knew I forgot something... Excuse my omission.

              2. re: J.L.

                Tried Kiriko last night. The sashimi was incredibly fresh and well prepared but *very* expensive. I was a little underwhelmed by the service and setting. The place was practically empty, but the server kept trying to take dishes before we were done and brought out one entree a good 10 minutes after the others. Not sure I'd go back. What is the deal with Pho Reign? I don't recall seeing or reading about this place before.

              3. Hit List:
                Orris-nice seasonal menu, tapas dishes
                Nambankan (flavors and selection is much better than furiabo)
                Mizu- ask for their yuzu sauce!
                Bar Hayama - great date spot
                Hide sushi - expect to wait. they don't take reservations
                Beard papas - strawberry puff is my favorite

                Miss List:
                Hurry curry
                Any of the soon tofu places
                Pinkberry
                Sawtelle kitchen

                I know its not on sawtelle but try Wakasan on westwood

                1. Orris -- grilled romaine, scallops, fois gras, generally really interesting specials
                  Robata-ya -- fried pork belly, foie gras, chicken skin
                  Bar Hayama -- steak tartare, grilled squid
                  Cafe Dahab-- also has really good french fries in addition to the aforementioned fuul

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Any other recs at Cafe Dahab? I've passed by many times but haven't heard anyone mention it before on chowhound.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      Their sandwiches and fries are probably the best bet. The food has been inconsistent the last few years, but if you want to share a bottle of wine, a sandwich and a hookah with somebody at 1 AM, that's the place to go.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        I'm a big fan of Cafe Dahab and have had no complaints about any of their food. Falafel sandwich (wrap) is completely inauthentic but tasty, their hummus is great, serve up a big basket of warm pita, and they always bring pickled vegetables and warm olies (mmmmmm) to your table with any food order. Greek and Fatoush salads are small but good. Also have some soups I've been wanting to try - haven't yet, but they always look good when I see them on other tables.

                        1. re: Cebca

                          Thanks to you both for the info. Like I said, I've been curious to try Cafe Dahab but figured the focus was more on the shisha than the food. I'll definitely give them a shot.

                          1. re: a_and_w

                            Got a falafel platter from Cafe Dahab and was pleasantly surprised! Falafel was fried to order and very crisp. I would advise them to make the balls a little smaller and flatter to ensure they're cooked fully all the way through, but I was still satisfied. Cabbage salad was a welcome change from plain old lettuce and tomatoes. I enjoyed my side of fuul, but the (tiny) portion of hummus that came with the platter was a bit bland. Only real downer was that they forgot my fries. Thanks for the rec!

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              "Shoukran" for reporting back!

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                Went back to Dahab last night, got the shwarma for the first time . . . I don't like that they use their pitas like wraps and not like pitas (isnt that the whole point?) but WOW, the meat was AMAZING. Super tender and juicy chicken strongly (but perfectly IMO) spiced with warm spices, definitely some cinnamon in there and I'm not sure what else (anyone else know?). Anyway, it tasted amazing. I got the garlic sauce on the side, which I think was a good call. I love garlic but the sandwich was so good on its own and it was nice to be able to add the garlic bite by bite as I pleased. If it had been mixed in with the sandwich the amazing chicken spices wouldnt have been able to stand out as well cause man that stuff is GARLICKY. Came with a yummy lemony salt and peppery cabbage slaw on the side.

                                SO got the shish kebab sandwich - same issues with the pita-as-wrap (all their sandwiches are like that) but again, the meat was winderfully spiced and excellently cooked, yummy bits of char but not overcooked and tough.

                        2. re: mollyomormon

                          what kind of fuul does cafe dahab serve?

                        3. ORRIS! -foie gras, warm snapper carpaccio, curry infused shrimp tempura, wonton dessert thing