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Aug 29, 2014 11:09 AM

Great Lunch Deals Downtown

What is your favorite lunch bargain in downtown LA? I've worked here several years now, and I'm always on the hunt. By bargain, I don't mean just the cheapest thing you can find. I mean, value for your money in terms of quantity and quality. Here are my top three:

1. Marugame Monzo. Here, with the order of any udon dish, you get a reduced price rice bowl on the side. Yesterday I had the oroshi soy sauce udon (which is spectacular) with a kariage don rice bowl (rice with assorted vegetable tempura, shrimp, and scallops). Together, this very filling and outstanding meal was $9.95 + tax and tip. Other rice bowls include negitoro bowl ($4 supplement to any udon), thin sliced pork belly bowl ($3 supplement) and a few others.

2. Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. What I usually do here is just order a single taco for my entire meal, which is $3. They serve it with a ridiculous amount of meat and extra tortillas, enabling the creation of multiple tortillas. I've always found the meat here to be more flavorful than the meat at its rivals in the market, but opinions vary. Another good option is the $4 gordita.

3. Kazunori. I admit to being smitten with this new place. The quality of the hand rolls is just so high given the relatively modest pricing. Is $17.50 a lot for lunch? Sure. It's not a daily lunch routine. But I think it would be very hard to find sushi of this quality at this price. And frankly I've been full each time after 5 handrolls. Also, for those of us that need to get back to work quickly, I enjoy the no-nonsense approach.

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  1. My wife and I like Koraku in Little Tokyo.

    It is NOT a high end Japanese place. It is NOT fancy. In fact, I've never really recommended it before on CH because I've been cautious about sending CHers there.

    We like it because to us it's Japanese comfort food. It's not a cool sushi bar or trendy ramen place, It's a place to get some good donburi or curry or something like that. My wife is Japanese American and she gets Japanese comfort food cravings (which is different, to her, than being in the mood for good sushi or something more high end); she likes a place where she can put a little rice in her hot tea.

    It's massively cheap.

    On Second Street. Cash only. Open really late, if that matters.

    7 Replies
    1. re: PaulF

      Massively cheap? Koraku? Are we talking about the same place? The one with the really dingy booths? And really not-good Chinese fried rice for $8.5/plate, or a bowl of mapo tofu for almost $9?

      Kang Kang: mapo tofu with a box of rice, $4. That's cheap, and also cash only, and about the same in qualify.

      Sorry for the knee-jerk reply, but 2 times at Koraku really pissed me off.

      1. re: TonyC

        That's okay.

        Like I said, we go there for certain things. To us it's pretty cheap. I have never mentioned it here, this thread seemed like it might fit.

        1. re: TonyC

          It's kind of cheap in the the same way 2am denny's is kind of cheap. that's exactly what koraku is for me.

          we must have different definitions of "massively cheap" than PaulF.

          1. re: ns1

            nailed it.

            i'll also venture to say Koraku is literally a sorta-Japaneses sorta-Denny's in Little Tokyo at 1am to me.

            1. re: TonyC

              We think of it as the Canters of J-town.

        2. re: PaulF

          Thanks for the rec. The picture I've seen of the omelette rice looks nice.

          1. re: PaulF

            in that vein i'd offer the suggestion of suehiro cafe.

          2. Would a plate lunch at LAX-C count as part of Downtown? I personally found the sandwiches at Mendocino to be good value, but I may have a different food budget than others.

            1. While I liked Kazunori, it reminded me what a great deal Sushi Gen's Sashimi Lunch Special is.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JAB

                I agree with this, but it's hard for me to even consider it given the ridiculous line. I have ordered it to go before though, and it was still pretty damn good.

              2. Farid ... chicken kebab plate for $8.00

                Bronzed Aussie ... meat pie or fish n chips *and* lamingtons

                Suehiro ... just because

                1 Reply
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Suehiro actually does have good daily lunch specials listed on their chalkboard. And it's just plain fun : )

                  1. re: jessejames

                    Sorry, jesse, but I disagree about Phillippe's being a "great lunch deal." One sandwich just doesn't come close to satisfying me for lunch, even with a side of slaw or potato salad. So I need another sandwich, or at least a bowl of chili or beef stew, and now I'm way over $10 into the mid teens.

                    On the other hand, a hot roast beef and pastrami sandwich at Eastside Market Deli (west of Chinatown across the 110) more than fills me up. Unless I'm feeling absolutely famished, a half-sandwich does it and I wrap the other half for dinner.

                    I also vehemently disagree with J. Gold's "Mega Taste, Mini Money" list today including Langer's and specifying the #19. I love Langer's, but it is a splurge for lunch. The #19 adds superfluous elements (and additional cost) to the perfect plain pastrami on rye. Split an order of crinkle fries (well done) and even stick with ice water, and with tax and tip you are north of $20 pp. A great lunch? Definitely. But far from mini money.

                    1. re: nosh

                      langer's is definitely in the $20 lunch category.

                      1. re: jessejames

                        my objection is somewhat cost but more proximity. if you include philippe's as doable at lunch then you've probably got a number of lunch specials available in chinatown, and given there's now a lot of vietnamese places in chinatown, bahn mi's at half the price of a french dip.

                        they have banh mi's in chinatown for $2.50