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Dec 21, 2010 08:27 AM

can Place Yuu get a little love? (or, can we start explaining "pacing" at the door?)

After a rain soaked afternoon, decided to skip cooking at home and treat ourselves to one of our "no fuss" favorites- Place Yuu on Sawtelle.
I say no fuss in that it's not the fanciest restaurant in the world (they have a big screen tv playing football games built into the wall), it's not the most expensive (handrolls and small izakaya-style apps are $3.99), we can always get a seat, and the food is rock-solid japanese.
Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is that I feel bad for them- we watched three (seriously, 3!) walk-outs at Place Yuu last night in the course of our dinner. All were American (or, at least non-Japanese) parties, as we are also.
All were furious over the pacing of the meal.
Now, the restaurant was fuller than usual, but not full. The dishes (at least as we could tell) were coming out pretty normally- one at a time, or in groups defined by cooking style (fresh veggies, cooked veggies, fried dishes, then sashimi and finally sushi, etc).
One party stormed out after loudly complaining "I can't believe you'd send us the food this way- we have to get to the airport!" (no mention of that that I could hear up until then)
Another group was upset that their tempura roll came out after our nigiri, "even though we ordered the roll before them."
Seriously? I can't tell you how bad I felt for the staff! I might be wrong, but I feel that, in places that are Izakayas, or psuedo-Izakayas, the whole point is to take your time, have a few rounds of drinks, and slowly eat as you relax...
The whole point of this is that you'd never see this happen if the place was full of CH'ers, so I felt I had to throw something up here about it. The damn shame of the whole thing is that the food is pretty good to very good, and the whole restaurant was forced to watch these temper tantrums all night.
Our meal:
shishito peppers (quick sauteed, w/ sesame seed)
homemade fish cake, wrapped around gobo then fried (served w/ ginger & soy- delicious)
veggies tempura (kabocha, potato, sweet potato, onion)
seared ono sashimi (w/ negi and dipping sauce)
nigiri (octopus, saba, uni, hamachi, seared albacore)
handrolls (salmon skin and spicy scallop/smelt egg)
cut roll of blue crab
The only stumble was the salmon skin hand roll, honestly, it just lacked the satisfying crunch of the skin having just been plucked from the oven, and the nori was getting a bit soft at that point (might entirely be my fault but I tries to eat it right away).
Anyway, 'hounds, can we give Yuu a lil love? I think they deserve it and I'd hate to see another night like last night!

Place Yuu
2101 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

8420 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

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  1. Place Yuu holds a special place in my heart. I've going there for well over 6-7 years now. Regularly. The food is fantastic, boss Mori-san & staff are all cordial, and it is consistently rewarding to me to go there as a patron.

    Yet, I don't mention it on this board much simply for selfish reasons: I don't want the rest of L.A. to overrun the place. (There. I've said it).

    It is a classic neighborhood izakaya, a la Osaka-style. The idea is that you go there to drink, usually after work, and have a few bites along the way (usually order 1-2 dishes at a time, repeat as necessary over the course of the evening, watch a little sports, and linger the night away before stumbling out and catching the last train home, in the Osaka salaryman tradition. This is very much in keeping with jdwdeville's decription of an izakaya.

    However, it is located in the U.S. of A., where passer-bys often say (understandably) "Hey look! There's Japanese restaurant! Let's have dinner there!" And by "dinner" comes the expectation that the pacing would be even. Heck, I'm surprised that this gastropub's kitchen would even have so many items on offering to begin with. Expectations are not always met due to this misperception. Diner tantrums like the ones mentioned in the OP are, sadly, going to occur at a very Japanese-minded place, located in the U.S. I've been there myself as one "angry" customer berated the staff for "ruining [his] date" and demanded a refund (his intent all along?). Mori-san was nothing but class, as was his unyielding (rightly so, since that couple had been sitting right next to me, having what looked like a good time up until the time of the tantrum) staff.

    So yes, Place Yuu is a little slice of Osaka, smack in the heart of Sawtelle. It deserves love. AND understanding.

    Place Yuu
    2101 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.L.

      JL- agreed regarding not wanting my go-to always-get-a-table place out in the open here, I just had to post after watching the travesty that was amateur night last night.

    2. one of the few places on sawtelle I haven't made it too. I'll def check it out.
      Any must gets there?

      Thanks for the heads up

      1 Reply
      1. re: AAQjr

        simple sashimi dishes (they sometimes have a whole aji/spanish mackeral in two courses)
        homemade specials (fishcake around gobo, beef tounge stew)
        simple izakaya dishes

        We're not breaking new ground here, honestly, one might find a better version of what they do with some hunting and driving- but the point here is that it is a homey, comfortable place to spend the night eating and drinking.

      2. on my radar now.


        don't worry I'm not a noob :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: ns1

          Just what I was afraid of. Now it'll be on more radars (sigh)...

          Seriously, food-wise, they're not breaking any new culinary ground (nor do I expect them to - it's a traditional izakaya for goodness' sake!), but the food is well-prepared. Get their buta kakuni (slow stewed pork), shisyamo (grilled smelt with roe), & shishito peppers. The tempura is quite good.

          If time permits, I recommend ordering as you go, instead of one huge order up front. I find the kitchen works well this way. The dessert presentations are quite nice too.

          At Place Yuu, Mori-san does have one specialty he does extremely well (when in season): Matsutake mushroom dobin mushi: It is the best version of this dish in L.A. I've found so far (and I've tried it at Musha, Mori Sushi, just to name a few). His knifework at the sushi bar is quite good, too - Ask for hirame usu zukuri style (thinly-sliced halibut sashimi). Yes, he will do omakases, if you ask (usually very fair, price-wise).

          Just know that the dishes will sometimes come out of the kitchen in erratic order. No worries, since you'll be awash in shochu anyway by that time, right?

          Place Yuu
          2101 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

        2. idwdeville- did you order omakase to get this meal or did you order ala carte? I plan on supporting the business next week, and this is quite sad that said gaijin are ruining the experience. I love the kaiseki cuisine at Kiyokawa so i am interested to see how Yuu compares.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Schweinhaxen

            Sorry about the late reply- no, we always go a la carte here, if only so we can meander slowly through the menu while drinking... I always follow a sort-of kaiseki theme in ordering- sashimi-ish dishes first, then veggies, then cooked dishes or fried, then sushi.

          2. Seems Americans have the wrong senses for Jp restaurants. They linger in ramen shops when they should finish and leave but want food quickly in izakaya's. LOL

            1 Reply