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Best izakaya in Little Tokyo...

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Hey Hounders,
I'm looking for the best Japanese (izakaya) restaurant in Little Tokyo... it's for a large group (16-ish) on a Sunday night . I have been to Haru Ulala and enjoyed it, but they are closed on Sundays. I've heard that Izayoi is fantastic, but a little pricey and not set up for large parties. What do ya'll think? Honda ya? Raku? Help a hungry sister out...

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  1. I really like Honda Ya. After three recent trips to Japan, it feels authentic and the food is good. I particularly enjoy their tuna tataki. Very light and refreshing

    1. I've been wondering too. I was hoping to hit up an izakaya this friday but I've only been to the Open Door and I don't want to go aywhere that breaks the bank.

      I'm considering trying out Honda-Ya this Friday.

      1. Honda-ya is probably best for a big party. It has a nice izakaya feel but be forwarned the kitchen is a joke.

        How do you screw up yakitori? I don't know - but the dude working in the open grilling area at honda-ya does.

        Service is not up to par either. After a succession of lackluster dishes I asked them if they could make me some mentai (spicy cod roe) fried rice. Even though they had mentai rice balls on the menu the waitress informed me that their incredibly talented kitchen staff doesn't do special orders. I did have the mentai rice ball and it was the best thing I had that night.

        You would think after talking all that smack that I wouldn't recommend the place. But not so. For me, an izakaya is as much about a pleasant environment to get drunk in than the food. And it is a nice place to get drunk. They also have extremely cheap, good quality glasses of imo-shochu. Haru Ulala has MUCH better food but since the dining room is bland, generic and lacks that homey feel of a good izakaya I'm actually torn between the two.

        Go to Honda-ya. Get drunk. But do NOT order the yakitori - seriously. It's that bad.

        1. For a large party, Honda-Ya is my answer to you. BUT... the food is better at Raku.

          1. Haven't been there myself yet, but I have a friend who's Japanese (born there, speaks / writes fluently), and also a professional chef, and she swears by Honda-ya.

            2 Replies
            1. re: will47

              Doesn't matter to me if Iron Chef Japan Rokusaburo Michiba himself endorses Honda-Ya. My taste buds still tell me Raku has better food.

              Do try it yourself, and please report back afterwards!

              But then again, Honda-Ya IS better for large parties...

              1. re: J.L.

                Tonight is the night... going to Raku. Will report back with deets...

            2. izayoi or raku. honda-ya is definitely more about the drinking scene and less about the food.

              1. Another vote for Izayoi. Get the scallops and mushrooms in butter.

                1 Reply
                1. re: andytseng

                  A couple of years ago no question, Izayoi. They are not the same anymore.

                2. We went to Raku and had a great time! I was not aware that it is owned by Koreans and is not traditional Japanese izakaya, but it was still delicious. Some of the Korean components, such as the kim chi in the center of the tuna sashimi, were delightful additions. I did miss some of the more traditional dishes, such as kakuni, but they had some great options which were more than memorable, including the panko breaded, deep-fried pork belly on skewers, which I called Pork Belly Lollipops. The 2 standout dishes were the black cod in miso, (which we ordered twice!) and the Japanese style BBQ beef.

                  Service wise, they were kind and accommodating, couldn't have been nicer!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wendysland

                    There's a lot of cross-over & affinity for Korean food in a Japanese pub, especially evident in Okinawan izakayas like Shin. I'd be interested to hear from other people, too, about any experience that they may have at Raku.