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Izakaya: Haru Ulala or Izayoi or ?

  • j

Looking for recommendations for the best Izakaya in the downtown area.

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  1. as much as i love izayoi - ulala is better for izakayan dishes. i would give izayoi some more time to settle its menu offerings for the time being.

    1. Any new advice on this? Going tomorrow night and don't know which is going to be better. Help!

      1. izayoi is more of an upscale, small plates experience with a decent sushi bar to boot. haru ulala is grimey, fun and cheaper, but probably a little more spartan and rough around the edges, especially when it comes to the food. it all depends what you're looking for!

        1 Reply
        1. re: rameniac

          rameniac, I think your comparison is quite accurate. I have been to both, and Haru Ulala is a too "grimey" and base for me; I did not enjoy our meal there. Our noodle dish was too sticky to eat, and some of the other items were well below expectations.

          On the other hand, I really like Izayoi! they take great care with their presentation; service is good and everything we ordered was really good.

        2. Best food is what I am looking for. Price not as important. Room and service count but not 1/10th as much as food for me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PlanDan

            If you just want a top class meal, go to Izayoi. You can't even compare it to Harulala. Izayoi also has beer on tap and a nice sake selection as well.

          2. i would say go to izayoi then. overall, it has the superior food, you just lose the "down home vibe," which is what i'm all about.

            btw dan can you email me off the site? had something i was curious about... my address is in my profile.

            1. i love both, for different reasons including those mentioned by rameniac....but i also vote izayoi if money is no object.

              1. I'm with luswei, I like them both too. I went to Haru Ulala last night and Izayoi last Weds. The meal last night was nearly half the cost; I really liked the food but I think that the quality is better at Izayoi.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Bon Vivant

                  I agree, Izayoi is more refined and of better quality. However, if you do try Haru-Ulala, they have a very tasty black pork braised in a slightly sweet soy-based broth and served with a dab of hot mustard. It's very tender, but also very fatty.

                  1. re: way2cook

                    I used to love Haru until I went to Izayoi.

                    Haru has good grilled squid, grilled enoki, and albacore and taco sushi

                    way2cook - The dish you mentioned is simmered pork belly, and it's called kakuni. I've tried both the dish at Haru and Izayoi, and Izayoi knocks it out of the BALLPARK!! The kakuni at Haru is a little bit dry looking with oily sauce, but the kakuni at Izayoi is oozing with moistness, tenderness, flavor, and it was so much better than Haru's. Each order of kakuni includes 2 pieces of belly and two bean curd pockets with mochi filling for $7.50. Boyfriend and I are going to dream about that kakuni until next time we can return.

                    These dishes were good enough but we wouldn't order them again - nasu miso (eggplant) was too sweet, oden (the daikon and potato were faboo, but the other stuff not our taste), and the simmered beef tripe.

                    I also enjoyed the sushi more at Izayoi - they seem to be the only people who have katsuo (bonito) in Little Tokyo and the surf clam was better than Sushi Gen's.

                    Overall, I think Izayoi pays more attention to the quality and presentation of their dishes, and their food and ambience seems more high quality. Can't wait to go back to Izayoi and try the kakuni and some other new dishes.

                2. I haven't been yet but I've heard that Gaja in Lomita - right next to my favorite cream puff place, Chantilly - is quite good - best known for their okonomiyake...

                  Torafuku is supposed to be happening too. According to J. Gold, they really focus on the rice - they do it like in the better places in Japan - cooked in huge cauldrons. I remember eating rice prepared like that in Hiroshima. It's so good when cooked that way... everything tastes better with this rice...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    ...but the thing is, the food at Torafuku isn't all that great-- I mean, that isn't to say it's not good, but it's not worth the very steep prices.

                    You'd be paying for the rice several times over. If you want to eat there, go during lunch hours and get a special.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      gaja is great, but it's really an okonomiyaki specialty restaurant. not an all-around izakaya experience if that's what you're looknig for...

                      1. re: rameniac

                        That's what I heard... just thought I'd throw that one in since not too many places serve okonomiyaki... even a limited izakaya would round things out for what I would think to be a pretty good experience...

                    2. Is Izayoi still going this bento box lunch described in item #11 on this LA Times article:


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chowmominLA

                        Indeed. I loved going there when I was on jury duty, and so did my fellow jurors! They offer several different bento boxes, all very affordable.

                      2. Last night, I had the most wonderful meal at Haru Ulala. The scallops in butter were sublime as was the short rib. Has me hankering to go back again already

                        1. how about Honda Ya? Now that they opened a branch store in little Tokyo.

                          1. Adding links

                            Haru Ulala
                            368 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                            132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                            Honda Ya Izakaya
                            333 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                            1. Skip Haru- it's not good at all, IMHO. Izayoi is good for izakaya food but lacks the fun, festive and casual atmosphere of a real izakaya. I longed for one ever since I moved back from Tokyo seven years ago, and last month, my prayers were answered- Honda-ya in Little Tokyo. Musha in Torrance certainly fits the bill but it's too far from mi casa. Honda-ya instantly transports me back to Japan. The food is good- not gourmet- but very good and tons of options.