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居酒屋 Izakaya in Little Tokyo - Anyone tried any of these?

Just read about the following Izakaya places in Little Tokyo - any frontrunners and fav dishes?

Aburiya Toranoko
Honda-Ya
Haru Ulala
Raku Plus

Cheers, LM

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

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

Aburiya Toranoko
243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

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  1. Toranoko is a little ahead of the pack for me, in that they do some comfort food dishes that the other places don't. If you go to Toranoko, I would recommend the uni goma tofu. Honda-ya is probably the best for relaxing and drinking.

    1. Did you read the article in Sunset Magazine? I was a little disappointed they didn't mention any of the Izakayas in other areas, such as the South Bay (as well as the branches of Musha and Raku that are on the west side, or any of the places on Sawtelle). I thought their suggestion that Little Tokyo is the best place to go for this style of food in the greater LA area was maybe a little misguided.

      5 Replies
      1. re: will47

        I did but was heartened by it. I'm hoping the Little Tokyo ones pull it off. It sounded like there is a critical mass being developed there which is why I wanted to see who's tried/liked what. Have you tried any of them?

        1. re: Louisiana Mouth

          Haru Ulala is ok.

          Toranoko is well executed but pretty pricey compared to other izakayas, you get great quality but I think the price is not quite worth it for some of the hot food items.

          If I remember correctly Raku, assuming its associated with the West LA one is a Korean owned wannabe Izakaya but in fact the food should be pretty decent either way.

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

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

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

          1. re: Johnny L

            Realizing I jumped into this thread a bit late here, but don't discount Raku at all. It does have a bit of a Korean slant to some of the dishes, but it also brings a nice seasonality to the menu that is refreshing- it's one of my favorites in springtime for their pea shoot dishes...
            Now, if someone could just point me to some oden.

            1. re: jdwdeville

              >>Now, if someone could just point me to some oden.<<

              Not in DTLA, but Torihei in Torrance has oden.

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              Torihei
              1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Cheers. First cold day this month I'm going on an oden pilgrimage.

      2. I regularly go to Honda-Ya and most of the time it's pretty solid. My favorites are the beef tongue and chicken wing skewers. I also like their poki salad. On their specials menu, they have this really tender and delicious stewed beef tendon.

        I haven't been to Haru Ulala or Raku. Toranoko I've tried once on someone else's dime. It wasn't bad, but it felt rather overpriced for what you get, but then we were a large group of 8.

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

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

        1. I like Honda-Ya. It feels like an authentic izakaya. They have a wonderful albacore tuna tatataki salad that is particularly delicious and refreshing

          1. I've been to Honda Ya several times and its pretty good. I like their beef and pork skewers, kobi beef sushi (I know its not technically sushi), takoyaki and yakisoba. Its really great for drinking as there is a large tatami room so that drunk parties can be rowdy.

            1. Only been to Haru Ulala. As already mentioned, it's ok. Honestly, tastebuds were a little "cloudy" that day, but recall the food being ok not great. As a comparison, food at Izakaya Bincho in Redodo Beach was markedly better overall.

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

              Izakaya Bincho
              112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

              2 Replies
              1. re: pharmnerd

                Izakaya Bincho was by far my favorite, but I just walked past it and the sign is gone. Can anyone confirm if they relocated or if closed?

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                Izakaya Bincho
                112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                1. re: djwahine

                  I live in constant fear that Bincho will close, and their propensity to look closed doesn't help. I just went a couple of weeks ago; the sign was gone, and they weren't open, even though it was 5:30 and they should have been. I started to panic, but then Tomo-san opened the door and said he was just running late. I was happy to come back later and order a boatload of food. Don't close, Bincho!!

              2. I feel like an idiot, but what is Izakaya? I googled it, and it looks like a sake place with a little bit of food. Is it done differently in LA? Is sake or food more of the focus? Thanks.

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

                2 Replies
                  1. Honda-ya is my favorite of these. It's the most traditional izakaya in terms of menu and atmosphere. It's a great down-home place to relax, drink, and eat. The food is solid. Toranoko is in a different category - more fish-focused, more fusion, and a lot more funds needed. Haru Ulala is a fun little place with lively waitresses, lots of drunk people, and passable food; but you don't go there just to eat, unless it's to soak up booze at the end of the night.

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

                    1. I haven't been to Harulala in awhile because the food used to be amazing and loved the staff. It used to be a younger guy but the last couple times i went the food was pretty mediocre. Also, the last couple times it's a lady/woman that has been making the food. So, basically i would say it's pretty mediocre. Has anyone tried the new one by the chef of Lazy Ox? Forgot the name but it's right next door.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: madsp33d

                        >>Has anyone tried the new one by the chef of Lazy Ox? Forgot the name but it's right next door.<<

                        That would be Aburiya Toranoko. I haven't tried it, but I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it yet. Seems like a place with potential...

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                        Aburiya Toranoko
                        243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Toranoko, having been twice is not bad at all but I wouldnot say excellent. It is the most accessible being that most servers speak good English and the menu is extensive like Honda-Ya but you can expect everything to be decent or good.

                          Avoid:
                          Grilled pork feet, tough and chewy
                          Oden, authentic, sure but pricey for what it is and quite flavorless

                          Get:
                          Okonomiyaki - crispy and flavorful ,price to food ratio wise its a good value.
                          yakisoba - same deal as above.

                          Everything else is rather pedestrian, nothing will knock your socks off but you can speak english and not worry about not fitting in if this is your first izakaya.

                          1. re: Johnny L

                            Thanks for heads-up on Toranoko. Will consider your recs.

                            1. re: Johnny L

                              Actually the yakitori (skewer-grilled) chicken thigh at Aburiya Toranoko is hands down the best bite of chicken in Los Angeles.

                              I'll say it again: The best bite of chicken in Los Angeles.

                              I love their buta no kakuni (stewed pork) as well.

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                              Aburiya Toranoko
                              243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              1. re: J.L.

                                bold claims, you got me interested!

                                1. re: ns1

                                  We enjoyed an extraordinary omakase dinner this past Saturday night at Aburiya Toranoko. The service was royal and the food was remarkable.

                                  We sat at the sushi bar around 5:00 before they became busy. Every dish was cleared in a timely fashion and our glass tea pot (genmaicha) was refilled as needed. The service was with great attention to detail.

                                  We were served a variety of sushi, sashimi and a few cooked dishes, one of which was a very tasty beef tongue stew. The sushi included oysters, gigantic sweet shrimp, an uni cocktail and various other fish items. The toppings on the raw fish items were elegant and beautiful; they included gold flakes, truffles, caviar, yuzu paste and yamamomo.

                                  Dessert was consistent with the wonderful dinner. We ended with a green tea mousse and a piece of Japanese cheese cake!

                                  I love omakase because we never ordered anything...all we did was applaud and cheer at the beautiful presentation of every dish!

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                                  Aburiya Toranoko
                                  243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                  1. re: liu

                                    Thanks for reporting back! I like this place as well.