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Sep 15, 2009 02:55 PM

Japanese food tour LA this weekend

Our chefs and I are heading to LA Sun-Tue to hit as many Japanese restaurants as possible. Staying downtown for the Sushi Masters event Sunday.

Looking for rec's in downtown for all styles and price points. Also rec's for other areas to hit such as Santa Monica and anything in between.


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  1. You really want to go down to Torrance for the best Japanese food.

    This is probably your best guide:

    2 Replies
    1. re: noahbites

      Concur w/that recommendation; Exilekiss is a regular and reliable LA CH reviewer/blogger.

      1. Head south. You need to go to Torrance and Gardena to get the best. Little Tokyo has stuff but Gardena and Torrance are where it's at. Of particular note would be two you can hit on the same night if you like (ha!) -- Torihei for Kyoto-style oden and directly across the parking lot is Musha for izakaya (their buta kakuni is amazing).

        3 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          You'll also enjoy Torihei for their yakitori. Their sansho pepper is quite delightful.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Don't forget GaJa on Lomita for a DIY Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki. And next door is Patisserie Chantilly for a Japanese-style French Bakery.

            I feel like GaJa is so unique in the US that it's a must if you want Japanese food in SoCal.

            Torihei used to serve Ramen too, but it got too popular and they had to take it off the menu. It's a shame because now I'll never get to try it.

            1. re: kainzero

              Torihei's ramen was good, but not so good that I'm particularly upset about it's disappearance. There's always too much stuff I want to order there as is.

          2. i might get a beat down for this on this board....but for something different...I would not miss Orris, a small plates fusion of Japanese with French dishes for me: warm snapper carpaccio, curry infused shrimp tempura with okinawan sea salt, foie gras with japanese eggplant, basil black cod, seared ahi sashimi, wonton dessert thing all with many flower vases of umenishiki daiginjo

            1 Reply
            1. re: peppermonkey

              If the OP is looking for Fusion he/she would be wise to heed your words (or, better, to go to Mako) but I get the sense it's not fusion they seek.

            2. thanks for all the rec's. We are also looking into restaurant design so there are some non japanese places to see. Here's our map so far


              might have to make another trip to try all the smaller places in Torrance everyone mentioned.

              6 Replies
              1. re: sfsand

                I just looked at your map. Sorry, but it looks like the LA tourist's guide to Japanese Food. This is the map of someone looking for the hot celebrity places, not foodie experiences. If you are going to spend that kind of money, just go to Urasawa and be done with it.

                1. re: wasabica

                  Nobu and The Hump are ridiculously overpriced for what they are. The Hump's quality is very good but not sensational, and the last time I was there the tab really wasn't that far off from Urasawa, which is one of the best restaurants in the country, so you might as well just go there and spend an additional $100 pp.

                  Your downtown choices are without exception weak. As others have said, Torrance isn't far off, and has far better alternatives.

                  Koi/Katana/Katsuya are barely Japanese. Tourist/celebrity traps, not worth the excessive cost or attitude.

                  I do like Orris, but as Ciao Bob said above, Mako is even better. He also owns Robata Ya, but I would choose Mako over that as well.

                  1. re: nimo

                    don't agree that mako is better, especially factoring the quality/price ratio

                    1. re: wasabica

                      i agree....that list is little weak for true japanese food. most places on the list are more of trendy nice date places rather than for the food.
                      i would do little search on this board and seek out best....
                      ramen, kaiseki, izakaya, soba, sushi, okonomiyaki, shabu shabu etc....

                      1. re: wasabica

                        ok ok ok. adjusting list. Thanks for the rec's

                        Some of the "touristy / non foody" places are on there for checking out the design and not really eating there. There are three japanese chefs with us, they want to see food, we want to see spaces.