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Izakaya - Little Tokyo

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I'm meeting up with my elderly but adventurous dad in DTLA for dinner Wednesday night and am wondering if the fine folks at CH could recommend an izakaya joint worth checking out.

I'm guessing cost probably wont be an issue since this type of restaurant tends to be inexpensive but I'd like to keep the price in the $$ range.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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  1. Aburiya Toranoko (next to Lazy Ox Canteen) & Haru Ulala (on 2nd Street).

    1. A request for fun $ joint defaults to Honda-Ya. Alternatively, if he likes chicken & beer, Kokekokko.

      17 Replies
      1. re: TonyC

        Is Kokekokko a good idea for 1st-timers though?

        1. re: chrishei

          I must agree with chrishei. I was so turned off by the obvious hierarchy and preferential treatment that I gave up on it after just 2 visits. Maybe that could fly fifteen years ago when the izakaya scene was slim pickens, but now there's too many good ones to deal with that nonsense.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            We're gonna skip Kokekokko.

            I have a low tolerance for being treated like I'm not a member of the club - especially when I'm paying - and my father is even pricklier in this regard.

            Looks like a choice between fu-ga and honda-ya.

            1. re: JeMange

              As the story goes, the more you go to Kokkekoko, the more they start to warm up to you. Supposedly they even have two different colored plates-- ones for the VIPs and others for the regular people. Different dishes get served to the VIPs. But if they don't recognize you, you get sent to the back corner of the bar.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                I read about (what I consider to be) their ridiculous hierarchy elsewhere. Not my thing.

                I'm of the opinion that my money is as green as that of the supposed VIPs.

                What may be common Japanese behavior/expectations/procedure made me think of JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI. Loved the doc but couldn't get over how diners would talk about being nervous/anxious/intimidated before their meal, which comes across as antithetical to what one wants out of a restaurant experience. Serenity. Good conversation. Fine service. Delicious food.

                I know it's not quite the same thing but it feels like a huge disconnect to add anxiety to the mix.

            2. re: Mr Taster

              Also stopped Kokekokko after 2 visits because of the black and white plates hierarchy treatment. I saw one of the black plate regulars rise up and kiss the chef's slightly extended hands as he left. Just silly.

              1. re: Mr Taster

                Guess after working for the Japanese for years, one gets used to the caste system.

                The chicken is good tho, and in the hopes of possibly getting some ass, one of my favorite things, I sometimes go back.

                1. re: TonyC

                  You can get good tail at Torihei without hoping for VIP leftovers.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I've gotten chicken butt from SSG as well.

                  2. re: TonyC

                    I love it at Kokekokko.
                    I been a "white man - white plate" guy for years there, and I always ate very, very well. A few weeks ago I got the "white man - black plate" treatment with a friend who's that type of customer. Was it better? Yes. A bit. Maybe more than a bit. But not so much that I won't go back by my "white plate- white ass" self. If it bothers you, go to Yakitori -ya : he treats everyone exactly the same (which is to say, like shit, and it is VERY, VERY pricey for f-ing chicken).

                    Or, as Porthos says, give Torihei a shot.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      I thought the black plates were personalized to the customer? Or is there a level above black plate for these personalized plate customers?

                      1. re: PeterCC

                        I don't have a precise answer to your questions. My limited experience is he saves many of the "better" bits and pieces (hearts, tails, livers, knees, chest bones) for his black plate customers.

                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                          f that, go to SSG before 8pm and eat all of that. special chicken heart and breast cartilage are AWESOME.

                          1. re: ns1

                            While I agree w/ everyone (esp Torihei rec), the OP said Little Tokyo. So these recs are outside the boundaries...

                            1. re: chrishei

                              well he also said izakaya and here we are recommending yakitori-ya's.

                            2. re: ns1

                              I know. Once again, 15 years ago those bits & bobs might have been the exclusive domain of Kokkekoko (or a rare few), but nowadays there are lots of places selling bits on sticks.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Speaking of which, does anyone know how long Kokkokoko has been open? It's been there as long as I can remember, and I've lived in LA since '97.

                                Mr Taster

              2. Had a decent meal/good time @ izakaya fu-ga. Really cool space, average/above average food. The japanese style fish n chips (minus chips) was awesome.

                Pretty suitable for older types as the environment isn't as loud as haru u lala (sp?) and much livelier than bincho. Then again, I've been to funerals that were more lively than meals at bincho.

                1. JeMange, where did you end up?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Ended up at Honda-Ya and yes, we wanted to stick to DTLA/Little Tokyo. Let me add that I'm no expert on izakaya or yakitori. I prefer yakitori but was under the impression that izakaya menus offer more variety, correct?

                    Liked it very much. Let's see... we ordered various styles/cuts of chicken, wings, skin, hearts (among my favorites of the night). Spicy lamb chops. Veg and shrimp tempura - mostly for my dad, it's not really my thing. A pitcher of Sapporo.

                    In the end, we probably ordered enough for three hungry people - it was just two of us - and got out of there for $75 + tip.

                    Already planning to go back with a larger group.

                    1. re: JeMange

                      Glad you had a good time, thanks for reporting back!