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Remember Tokyo Kaikan on San Pedro Street?

  • g

I have fond memories of dining experiences at Tokyo Kaikan on San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo and would like to find another like it. Is there anything similar in food quality and atmosphere in the LA area (i.e. L.A., San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, SouthBay, etc..)?

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  1. I heard that the Far East Cafe will be (re)opening next month on First St. thought I'm not sure it'll resemble what it used to be.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gonzo

      Far East Cafe still resembles the same old place inside-doesn't look like anythings changed. I walked in there last week and there was a private party going on(food was catered in from the outside). I know people involved with the opening and its going to have something that resembles the Far East Cafe food and Asian-Fusion dishes also. I say resembles because I'd heard they were unable to get the original recipes from the original owner's relatives who own the New Formosa Cafe and the Formosa Cafe (Boyle Heights and W. Hollywood), which serve the original Far East Cafe dishes. I think it will be called Chop Suey and not the Far East Cafe.
      Spent many nights eating and drinking at Tokyo Kaikan or "TK's" as we locals used to call the place. The had a good assortment of different types of Japanese cuisine. One of the unique things they had at one time was the tempura bar, but I think that was replaced by a shabu shabu bar.

      1. re: K

        Speaking of nostalgia and the Far East Cafe, I sure hope they can dig up the recipe for hom yu (steamed pork hash). I understand that hom yu is actually the preserved fish, and I don't remember hom yu fish on top of the "hom yu" (steamed fish) as it was called back in the day. It's really kitschy, again a nostalgia thing for me, but, I sure have been craving for their hom yu.
        Can't wait till it re-opens and I can drive down from San Francisco to try Far East Cafe again. And, Tokyo Kaikan, that was a very good restaurant, really great tempura!

        1. re: Mochi

          You can probably get the pork hash with hom yu at any cantonese style restaurant in San Francisco. I'm sure "Uncle's" in San Francisco Chinatown has it.
          You can't really mess it up or make it much different than the Far East Cafe...its basically made the same everywhere. Paul's Kitchen in Monterey Park and Downtown LA have it and its the same.

          1. re: K

            Actually the hom yu in San Francisco and at most Chinese restaurants make it quite differently. It's actually called steamed pork with hom yu since the hom yu is actually the salted fish that goes on top of the steamed pork hash. The way they make it now is more authentic than the way they use to make it at Far East. I suspect that the Far East Cafe made it to appeal to the non-Chinese palate hence it was softer and fluffier and did not have the hom yu on top. It just tasted different as well. Oh, well, maybe I'll try to make it at home. As much as I love the more authentic chinese dishes that are at the better Chinese Restaurants, it's nice sometimes to eat something that brings back childhood memories, authentic or not.

            1. re: Mochi

              Hom Yu is Hom Yu...it stinks. That's the aroma you smell when you go into a Chinese grocery store. A little goes a long way. One tip about making it at home and what you get at the restaurants is that they use a coursely ground pork not the pre-ground pork you find in the butcher case...so there's some bite to it and not mushy. Also you have to add just a touch of fish oil...a little of that goes a long way too.

              1. re: K

                Glad to know that Far East Cafe will open up soon and I won't have to make it. Thanks K, I'll have to look for the fish oil, good tip as well as the coarsly ground pork.

    2. Btw, I'm just curious, but how exactly was Tokyo Kaikan like back in the day? My parents used to go there a lot, but I'd never been.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gonzo

        I used to go to Tokyo Kaikan with my folks. I think that was the first place I had teppan-yaki. But when I was older, I LOVED their house salad -- it was filled with sashimi and the best piece of agedashi tofu.

        I believe that Shaab in Old Town Pasadena is owned by former Tokyo Kaikan employees.

        Shaab
        77 N. Raymond
        Pasadena
        626-683-1150

      2. b
        BombayUpWithaTwist

        It's not in the LA area, but Kitayama in Newport Beach was originally opened by the Tokyo Kaikan people. I know some people don't like the place, but I think the food is pretty good and you can get Shabu Shabu & Sukiyaki courses. They also have Kaiseki dining in their private tatami rooms and even serve Fugu courses when it is in season if you reserve in advance.

        Kitayama Restaurant
        101 Bay View Place
        Newport Beach, CA 92660
        (949) 725-0777

        1. g
          Gohantabeyoka

          Hey, Ger:

          In it's heyday there were actually two Tokyo Kaikan in Little Tokyo, the one on San Pedro St. and the other, a two-story affair right on J-Town's main drag, E. 1st St., near where Suehiro Cafe is today.

          The multi-speciality (teppan, tempura, teishoku, sushi) TK concept was a winner---truly ahead of its time. And it was a fun place too w/consistently tasty food.

          Here's some trivia: Tokyo Kaikan was owned and operated by International Marine Products, Inc. (IMP) that some Hounders mention a lot. Guess Imai-san and the rest of the itaemae had first dibs on International Marine's best, huh?

          Gohantabeyoka?