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Best of Little Tokyo?

l
liajana Feb 20, 2011 12:43 PM

Thinking of discovering Little Tokyo in LA. What are the best of the best? Sushi? etc.... Up for any fun AND yummy suggestions.

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Little Tokyo Restaurant
150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

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  1. J.L. Feb 20, 2011 06:07 PM

    KaGaYa for shabu shabu.
    Raku for late night izakaya.

    No pick for ramen. (vacant throne)
    No pick for sushi. (vacant throne)

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    Raku Restaurant
    11678 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.L.
      soniabegonia Feb 21, 2011 11:11 AM

      Kagaya is a gem. Never disappoints. Was there last night and as usual, packed. They were turning away customers who had showed up sans reservation. Regular beef is now $47pp, wagyu $128. One thing I noticed last night that I hadn't noticed before is that I'm pretty sure the creme brulee is more of a panna cotta than a true creme brulee (ie, gelatin-set rather than egg-set in a bain marie). I'd always wondered how they got it so perfectly silky w/ not even one tiny bubble or tiny curdled custard around the base. I'd wondered how, for all those 20+ creme brulees I've had there over the years, they managed never to scorch it even one iota. It is bound to happen sooner or later even to the most expert baker. Now I'm almost certain that it's a panna cotta w/ a bruleed topping (or branded in their case). Not that I'm complaining or anything... I love it... it's the perfect amount or dessert after the feast they serve up and always delicious & consistent. It was just an observation.

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      Kagaya
      418 E. 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    2. r
      Robert Thornton Feb 20, 2011 06:09 PM

      I still love Sushi Gen.

      1. t
        thestratbrat Feb 20, 2011 06:23 PM

        Here are a few of my faves:
        Sushi - Sushi Gen and Sushi Go 55 both serve fresh fish at reasonable prices.
        Izakaya (beer/sake and nibbles) - Honda-ya for a big group; Haru-Ulala for dates/smaller groups. The latter has a great happy hour, too.
        Noodles - Daikokuya for classic ramen; Chin-Ma-Ya for spicy sesame noodles; Koraku for slightly greasy, good-when-you're-drunk food.
        Comfort food - Suehiro does decent versions of basic dishes like rice bowls, curry and teriyaki. I'm into their chazuke (rice porridge) which is pretty much the best thing in the world when you have an upset stomach but still need to eat something. Not sure if that's what you're after.
        Dessert - Mochi ice cream (or, uh, "mochilato") at Mikawaya.

        Have fun! Are you planning on just spending a day there, or discovering it little by little?

        -----
        Daikokuya
        327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        Suehiro Cafe
        337 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        Mikawaya
        118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        Sushi Go 55
        333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

        Koraku
        314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        Izakaya
        8420 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

        2 Replies
        1. re: thestratbrat
          a
          andytseng Feb 20, 2011 10:17 PM

          pretty much agree with the entire post.

          1. re: thestratbrat
            Maxmillion Feb 22, 2011 05:59 PM

            ditto to andy -- stratbrat has it down.

          2. ipsedixit Feb 20, 2011 06:52 PM

            I like Komasa and Toshi for sushi.

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            Toshi
            15489 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit
              c
              cls Feb 21, 2011 05:57 AM

              second Toshi for sushi
              add Izayoi for izakaya

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              Izayoi
              132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

            2. A5 KOBE Feb 21, 2011 08:53 AM

              Komasa and Oomasa for sushi.
              Lazy Ox Canteen for overall food.

              7 Replies
              1. re: A5 KOBE
                ipsedixit Feb 21, 2011 09:02 AM

                As overrated as Lazy Ox might be, it's next-door sister restaurant, Toranoko, is probaby worse.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  Porthos Feb 21, 2011 09:21 AM

                  Thank you! I was starting to think I was the only Lazy Ox detractor...now if I could just find one other person that doesn't like Animal...

                  1. re: Porthos
                    t
                    TailbackU Feb 21, 2011 01:40 PM

                    I didn't like Animal!!!

                    I really don't get what all the hype is about. Thought it was a very average to meh meal.

                  2. re: ipsedixit
                    aching Feb 21, 2011 10:27 AM

                    Oh, I've had some great meals at Lazy Ox! Seriously, their bone marrow farro is heaven to me. Haven't tried Toranoko though.

                  3. re: A5 KOBE
                    E Eto Feb 21, 2011 10:42 PM

                    Yikes, really? Oomasa and Komasa? Those are two of the most mediocre places I've tried in Little Tokyo. Really, you can find better nearby.

                    1. re: E Eto
                      c
                      Clyde Feb 22, 2011 02:22 PM

                      Oomasa is downright awful. I think it's gone downhill b/c i used to like it but the last few times it was so bad i will never return. i like Komasa the one time i was there. seemed fresh enough for me! what about Hama? stopped going there for no apparent reason only to prefer gen and go 55 (great lunch deals) and honda ya and haru. I remember Hama being good but i haven't been in years. Also, red bean cakes in the village, and beard papa in the alameda mall is quite good!

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                      Oomasa
                      100 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                      1. re: Clyde
                        ipsedixit Feb 22, 2011 05:35 PM

                        Oomasa is no where on the same level as Komasa. Oomasa survives b/c of its convenient location in the shopping plaza.

                        Hama is fine. But I prefer Komasa and/or Toshi.

                        -----
                        Oomasa
                        100 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                        Toshi
                        15489 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

                  4. m
                    ms.H Feb 21, 2011 09:43 AM

                    I enjoy the lunch specials at Joy Mart, and Nijiya Market is a great place to buy to-go sushi and rice bowls. Oh, and the little bakery just across from Nijiya market (can't recall the name), has some of the best red bean steamed buns!

                    1. Akitist Feb 21, 2011 09:46 AM

                      Lunch sashimi special at Sushi Gen is very good.

                      Ramen at Daikokuya is so-so. Orochon has slipped, broth not as good as in the past.

                      Fugetsu-do for Japanese, um, confections.

                      And grab a cream puff at Beard Papa.

                      -----
                      Daikokuya
                      327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                      1. l
                        liajana Feb 21, 2011 10:06 AM

                        What about places for creative and yummy rolls?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: liajana
                          ipsedixit Feb 21, 2011 10:25 AM

                          Yen.

                          1. re: liajana
                            c
                            cls Feb 21, 2011 10:57 AM

                            That puts your sushi taste in perspective. You may wish to steer clear of Toshi.
                            You can add to the list Takami.

                          2. aching Feb 21, 2011 10:22 AM

                            I really like Spitz - I find the LT location to be far superior to the original in Eagle Rock. The street cart fries are insanely good.

                            -----
                            Spitz: Home of the Doner Kebab
                            371 E 2nd St # D, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: aching
                              l
                              liajana Feb 21, 2011 11:52 AM

                              I've tried Spitz and was not loving it. Being very familiar with what real doner kebab tastes like, Spitz was not it for me. :(

                              1. re: liajana
                                aching Feb 21, 2011 01:36 PM

                                But did you have the street cart fries? That's what keeps me going back! (And I usually get a falafel wrap, not the doner kebab - but I have been to Turkey or the Middle East so I couldn't speak to the authenticity).

                                -----
                                Middle East Restaurant
                                910 E Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                1. re: aching
                                  l
                                  liajana Feb 21, 2011 05:03 PM

                                  No I haven't tried their cart fries. When I try a new place, I always start with one thing just to test it out before I go back and order other things, so doner kebab was that one thing awhile back. And since doner didn't pass my test, I never went back for anything else. :/

                                  1. re: liajana
                                    shellshock24 Feb 21, 2011 10:25 PM

                                    I'm not a huge fan of Spitz either. I live a block away from there but I usually only go to Spitz to grab beers since the happy hour prices are incredible.

                            2. n
                              noahbites Feb 21, 2011 12:29 PM

                              As for Japanese food, Little Tokyo will never be the best at sushi, ramen, tempura, or anything of that ilk. But I do adore it, nonetheless. It is an immensely pleasing place for late-night eating though -- it makes the often dive-like food especially enjoyable. Personally, I have soft spots for Suehiro (almost like Japanese cafeteria food), Honda Ya (an izakaya, like most, requiring friends and many drinks), and Koraku (for trashy, fusion ramen, with surprisingly adequate noodles).

                              -----
                              Suehiro Cafe
                              337 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              Koraku
                              314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              Little Tokyo Restaurant
                              150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: noahbites
                                Porthos Feb 21, 2011 12:42 PM

                                Except for Kagaya. It probably reigns as best shabu shabu. The prime rib eye is top notch and very tender. You really don't need to spring for the wagyu to have a great meal there. The pre-shabu appetizers can be as stellar and as refined as what you'll find in some of LA's top kitchens.

                                -----
                                Kagaya
                                418 E. 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                1. re: Porthos
                                  J.L. Feb 21, 2011 01:07 PM

                                  Hear hear.

                                  1. re: Porthos
                                    n
                                    ns1 Feb 22, 2011 12:38 AM

                                    kagaya is great but look at it as a 50pp kaiseki which features shabu and not a 50pp shabu meal.

                                  2. re: noahbites
                                    x
                                    XI ShinE XI Mar 1, 2011 12:44 PM

                                    How is Honda Ya? I'm going there later this week with a group of friends.

                                    I also like Koraku for their fried rice and they're open late.

                                    -----
                                    Koraku
                                    314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                  3. monku Feb 22, 2011 07:07 PM

                                    Wurstküche for exotic grilled sausages and plenty of beer choices.
                                    http://www.wurstkucherestaurant.com/i...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: monku
                                      c
                                      cls Feb 22, 2011 07:34 PM

                                      not in Little Tokyo though.

                                      1. re: cls
                                        monku Feb 22, 2011 07:48 PM

                                        A stones throw to Alameda the border of LT doesn't count?

                                    2. monku Feb 22, 2011 07:11 PM

                                      Koraku for the best fried rice....get it plain or with an omelette and gravy on top.
                                      Kind of a Japanese style coffee shop/diner.
                                      The food tastes as good as the plastic food looks in the window.
                                      My favorite is the Popeye (spinach and pork) Ramen.

                                      Koraku
                                      314 East 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
                                      (213) 687-4972 ‎

                                      1. yinyangdi Feb 23, 2011 02:05 PM

                                        For sushi in Little Tokyo I can recommend Mako Sushi located on the Third Floor of Weller Court; adjacent to Kyoto Grand fka New Otani.

                                        Mako Sushi
                                        Weller Court, Suite 307
                                        123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street
                                        Los Angeles, CA 90012
                                        (213) 613-0083
                                        www.makosushi.com
                                        Hours: Tues - Sun: 6:00 pm-10:30 pm

                                        -----
                                        Mako Sushi
                                        123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Ste 307, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: yinyangdi
                                          bluesman Mar 3, 2011 08:25 PM

                                          I agree, started with Mako when he was still in Arcadia (1981).
                                          And no matter where else I've tried sushi Mako is head and shoulders above the rest.

                                          ps... stay away from mako's in Arcadia it's no longer family owned.

                                        2. l
                                          liajana Feb 27, 2011 11:29 AM

                                          So I did it! Yesterday went to explore Little Tokyo. Tried a very yummy bakery in the Japanese Village, there chocolate croissant was DELISH and so fresh. Yum.... After walking around, most recommends were empty and I decided to try Daikokuya for Ramen.

                                          I gotta tell you, I was disappointed. 1st off I didn't realize it was a hole in the wall. Restrooms were dirty, the place needs a good scrub down and a definite remodel. But since so many people on chowhound recommend this place, I decided to go against my inner feeling and try it anyways.

                                          The wait service was good, friendly and fast and the wait wasn't at all bad, took about 15 mins to get a table. The crowd was mostly 20's. After getting the table and looking at the menu, I realized they only service the pork both Ramen. :/ Not much variety there. I order their Ramen, my partner ordered the teriyaki eel bowl.

                                          The Ramen arrived and it was lukewarm. :( Oh no, lukewarm?!!!! I was going to ask the waiter to get it warmed up, but he was busy and didn't get to our table for a bit, I was hungry and said what the heck. Ate 50% of it and decided to pass. Just not my type of a place. My partner said the teriyaki eel bowl wasn't bad. The portion of the eel was great and def worth trying once especially for the price.

                                          However this place is a Ramen house and should have MORE variety. Disappointing.

                                          P.S. After walking around, we came upon the Weller Court Shopping Center and on the 3rd level noticed a Ramen house that was packed, clean, with a bit more variety AND CLEAN!!! And the portions looked HUGE! I believe it's called Orochon Ramen and I would def would have gone here instead had I known about this. :(

                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/orochon-ramen...

                                          -----
                                          Daikokuya
                                          327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                          Little Tokyo Restaurant
                                          150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: liajana
                                            J.L. Feb 27, 2011 02:15 PM

                                            Again, I stick to my initial reply to your thread: Vacant throne for ramen in Little Tokyo.

                                            Daikokuya owner lines his pockets well with the hipster quotient, but this Chowhound says this ramen-ya is way past its prime.

                                            Orochon has its niche ramen (read: Spicy): Serviceable, but nothing great.

                                            By the way. simply curious, how much variety do you expect from a ramen house?

                                            1. re: J.L.
                                              l
                                              liajana Feb 27, 2011 05:09 PM

                                              JL,
                                              The variety I'm speaking of is miso broth at least besides pork and maybe like Orochon have sort of create your own additions where you can make it spicy etc.

                                              I agree with you, Daikokuya is about 20 years past its prime. :/

                                              So what are your recommends for Ramen? Or actually any noodle house? Pho, etc....

                                              I'm thinking of making my own Pho next weekend.

                                              -----
                                              Daikokuya
                                              327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                              noodle house
                                              46 W Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                              1. re: liajana
                                                J.L. Feb 27, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                I see your point. Try:

                                                Ramen Mottainai (Gardena) - Get the smoky broth with the Alpha Bomb
                                                Ton-Chan Ramen (San Gabriel) - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/765028
                                                Santouka (West LA) - Get the Special broth #7

                                                -----
                                                Santouka
                                                3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                Ramen Mottainai
                                                1630 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Suite #9, Gardena, CA 90247

                                                1. re: J.L.
                                                  x
                                                  XI ShinE XI Mar 1, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                  I second on TonChan in San Gabriel. They recently opened so there is no wait and the broth was excellent. They have three tonkotsu flavors: shio, shoyu, and miso. I think they all come with chashu, green onions, soft boiled eggs, and dried seaweed and you get to choose 2 additional toppings. You also get to choose the spiciness level but I think it's best without any spice since all they do is mask the rich flavor. Santouka is also a great ramen place. Good thing you didn't go to Orochan though. I have no idea why so many people go there. With all the spice you can't really taste the broth and everything is so watery.

                                                  Also in the same plaza as TonChan in San Gabriel, there is a famous pho place called Golden Deli and it is always packed. They are closed on Wednesday though but I'll probably stop by when I'm down there next time. I never tried myself but I'm sure they're good.

                                                  -----
                                                  Golden Deli
                                                  815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                  Santouka
                                                  3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                2. re: liajana
                                                  n
                                                  ns1 Feb 28, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                  Ramen

                                                  Shio Tonkatsu = Santouka
                                                  Miso = Mottainai

                                                  have not tried yamadaya

                                              2. re: liajana
                                                Akitist Feb 28, 2011 09:33 AM

                                                I'm surprised that any recent posts for Daikokuya are positive. Pretty unremarkable. I do like the funk factor in the decor, but I'm not a fan of surgically sterile. Where else can you see '50s Japanese ad posters, even if they are replicas?

                                                Orochon is neater, but the broth had acquired a chemical off-taste the last time we visited. They do have three varieties of broth, salt, miso, and shoyu, and various levels of (spicy) heat.

                                                Anybody try the place downstairs from Orochon, Tan Tan Mein, I think it's called?

                                                -----
                                                Daikokuya
                                                327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                1. re: Akitist
                                                  artgalgenius Mar 1, 2011 01:16 AM

                                                  That would be Chin Ma Ya, a chain of restaurants from Japan. I really like this place. I usually get the tan tan men with temomi (thicker) noodles-the broth is both flavorful and has some thickness to it. Their chuhai (shoju cocktails) are smooth and delicous-the lychee chuhai is my favorite

                                                  1. re: artgalgenius
                                                    bigtums Mar 4, 2011 11:54 PM

                                                    I really like chin ma ya. Their chicken karrage is good as well.

                                                2. re: liajana
                                                  c
                                                  cfylong Mar 16, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                  Last time I went a couple years back, I remarked at how there were pockets of cooling broth with hot. My wife noted that they may have put in cold toppings into the hot broth, and I believe she's right. Too many other places to try without having to wait with hipsters.

                                                3. u
                                                  uwsister Mar 1, 2011 04:50 PM

                                                  If you want to include some dessert in your exploration - I went to a store that sold very good glutinous rice cakes (mochi) in various flavors and other Japanese confections. I forget the name, darn it. But I remember it's been there for a long time and is not far from Kyoto Grand.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: uwsister
                                                    monku Mar 1, 2011 04:54 PM

                                                    Fugetsudo on 1st Street?

                                                    1. re: monku
                                                      u
                                                      uwsister Mar 1, 2011 05:17 PM

                                                      I think that's the one!

                                                  2. s
                                                    sushigirlie Mar 4, 2011 07:35 PM

                                                    I like Sushi Gen, Komasa, Hama, and Sushi Go 55 for sushi and Fugestu Do and Mikawaya for Japanese desserts. I haven't been to any place I really disliked in Little Tokyo. On the other hand, there's no place I really love there either.

                                                    -----
                                                    Mikawaya
                                                    118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                    Sushi Go 55
                                                    333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                                    1. bigtums Mar 4, 2011 11:55 PM

                                                      I love the katsu sandwich at focus cafe.

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