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Best Japanese in San Gabriel Valley?

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Looking for good non-sushi type of Japanese food in SGV. Not looking for ramen, we already have our favorite spots for that.

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  1. Masacasa (pasadena)

    5 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      The one on Colorado? I think it closed.

      1. re: chowchow12345678

        Really? I was just there recently.

        And there Facebook page still looks up to date.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Hmm, could you give me their address?

          1. re: chowchow12345678

            Here's their facebook page


            1. re: ipsedixit

              Oh, they're in Eagle Rock, you had mentioned Pasadena earlier. Thanks!

    2. For izakaya, there's Oto Oto in Monrovia, HInotori in Arcadia, and Shinsengumi in Monterey Park.

      11 Replies
      1. re: crystaw

        +1 on SSG

        1. re: ns1

          +2 on SSG.

          And Daikokuya.

          1. re: TonyC

            Is the Monterey Park Daikokuya better than the downtown outpost?

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Nope probably worse.

              I do recommend:
              Oto Oto (just don't get their yakitori everything else is good)
              Hinotori (their chicken skewers are decent but non chicken stuff is great, and non skewered food is all good)
              SSG as well, never had a bad meal there.

              1. re: Johnny L

                Nope probably worse.
                caveat: this is a man who detests Daikokuya. I find the food basically the same, with a much shorter wait, which makes the restaurant much better.

                1. re: Johnny L

                  > Nope probably worse.

                  Probably? Have you actually eaten the food there, or are you making unfounded guesses?

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    I've eaten there several times, but I haven't been back to the Little Tokyo location in a while due to the stupid long wait times for mediocre ramen so that's why I can't say for sure it is worse than the original. Last time I went to the MPK location I found the ramen very passable especially now that we have several better options in the SGV.

              2. re: TonyC

                Let me +3 on SSG. I can't believe I hadn't noticed they had opened their MP outpost until this past week but my wife (JA) and I had long complained that when we moved from the Westside to SGV, we gained in Chinese but lost in Japanese and then we went to SSG in MP and suddenly felt a lot better.

                When we lived Westside, SSG's ramen and yakitori spots in Gardena were a frequent destination so to have an expanded izakaya-style SSG out here, literally less than 5 miles from where we live, is awesome.

                We had a great meal there this past Tuesday, including with their premium uni, grilled squid, the special chicken wing, as well as their normal offerings, like the bacon-wrapped shiso leaf, which is like crack on a stick.

                1. re: odub

                  "We gained in Chinese but lost in Japanese."

                  This is interesting, considering MPK used to be large Japanese enclave, even before Gardena, as one local old-timer told me. There was once a JA friendship association (or some other diplomatic association or another) in Montebello, and MPK still has quite a few extremely old (by SGV standards) Japanese restaurants. Shinano has been open since 1977, and Shina No Yoru's ABC license goes back to 1994. The MPK Cherry Blossom festival is in its 16th year: http://ci.monterey-park.ca.us/index.a...

                  Glad you found respite from all the tiring Chinese food, though. To counter the food euphoria you had after SSG, try Open Door that's kitty corner across. It may make you wish you never moved.

                  1. re: TonyC

                    Yes, this is true. My family has been in MPK for several generations and remember the old Japanese families. There were a couple nurseries in the area that were Japanese-owned too.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      TonyC: Ha, all I saw was "truffle tater tots" and that was enough of a red flag. I find all these "Asian fusion" spots out in the SGV to be interesting but haven't eaten at enough of them (not that I'd want to) to figure out who their core demo is. I don't think it's my parents' generation...I'm not even sure it's MY generation (I'm 40) though I suspect it's more aimed at 2nd gens like myself.

                      And my wife actually has cousins and aunts/uncles in MPK who've been there for decades. But the Japanese food out here that caters to them is like...Yama. Definitely not some Sawtelle-level grub which is what we like.

            2. Matsuri on Green and Wilson, although they do have a decent sushi bar.

              1. After a few months spent getting their act together, Oto-Oto has really been hitting it out of the park lately. It's good that you're not specifically looking for sushi, because while their sushi is competent, it's not really their specialty, nor as it as good as, say, Ishi in Pasadena.

                Their izakaya dishes, though, are wonderful, especially the house special tofu (imagine a sort of soft tofu mozarella, with an addictive smoky/funky/sweet dipping sauce), the goma-ae, the tongue demi-glace, and anything pickled ... recently I tried a miso-pickled ginger that had a sort of pleasantly weird "fizzy umami" that reminded me of that bean sprout banchan dish at Seongbukdong.

                Clearly their cash cows are sushi and booze, but they seem to put a bit more love into the oddball dishes. So look over the regular and daily special menus, order the stuff that sounds the weirdest, and enjoy.

                1. Wait, no like likes Musha in Old Town?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: TonyC

                    Who refers to Pasadena as SGV? Unless there's a Musha in "Old Town Alhambra" that I'm missing.

                    1. re: ns1

                      Musha Pasadena just isn't, IMHO, at the level of Musha Torrance (or Oto-Oto or SSG, for that matter.) But yes, Pasadena is geographically in the SGV, except perhaps for the bit of it west of the Arroyo Seco...

                      1. re: ns1

                        Pasadena is certainly in the San Gabriel Valley. Who told you otherwise?

                        1. re: Ernie

                          nobody ever told me one way or another

                          1. re: Ernie

                            Geographically yes, but culturally no. It's the last bastion of Caucasians in the SGV.

                            1. re: Johnny L

                              Don't forget Monrovia and South Pasadena.

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                Or Glendora, Sierra Madre, Bradbury, etc.

                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                  You people haven't spent much time recently in Pasadena, Monrovia or South Pas, have you? There are pretty big Asian populations in all of those cities (and in Pasadena, especially, large Latino and Black populations as well.) It's not as Asian-dominant as Monterey Park or Alhambra, but they're hardly caucasian enclaves.

                                  That said, I like Musha, too. But I haven't been to the one in Torrance.

                                  1. re: Savour

                                    really??! I find the food at Musha extremely mediocre. Even by the Torrance main branch standards.

                                    1. re: dreamcast18

                                      What Japanese izakaya food is better in the area? I don't frequent izakayas often, and I've only eaten at Musha once, but we enjoyed it.

                                      1. re: Savour

                                        Oto Oto in Monrovia is not bad and Hinotori has better small plates than yakitori.

                        2. Wonderful Restaurant on New Ave (it's secretly Taiwanese, but the Japanese selections are great)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ClarissaW

                            So don't hold out on us! What's this wonderful restaurant called?!

                            And while you're at it - Who's on first? :-)

                            1. re: J.L.

                              It's called Wonderful Restaurant, something only a Chinese/Taiwanese person would do.

                              1. re: Johnny L

                                I know. (Just being facetious...)