Latest Best of LA

Dining Guide To LA’s Little Tokyo

September 9, 2014 6:00 AM

View Comments
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Barry Lancet grew up in California and has now lived in Tokyo for more than twenty-five years, an experience that has granted him access to many exclusive traditional and business circles. He is the author of the Jim Brodie mystery-thriller series, featuring an American Japan expert living in San Francisco. The first entry, Japantown, received three Best First Book citations and has been optioned for a television drama by J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Tokyo Kill, the second thriller in the series from Simon & Schuster, is out now and available wherever books are sold.

Barry Lancet has used his vast knowledge of Japanese culture and his California roots to select some of the finest spots to grab a bite in LA’s Little Tokyo. Ranging from the established favorites to the newer, eccentric standouts, these selections encompass this tiny neighborhood’s enormous diversity and deliciousness!

Photo Credit: JiST Cafe

Photo Credit: JiST Cafe

JiST Café
116 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213) 792-2116
http://jistcafe.com/

The brainchild of a third-generation Japanese chef, Glen Ishii, and his business partner, Caroline Shin, the name of this café is an anagram of their mothers’ initials. Savory dishes such as Porky Omurice and Chashu Hash Skillet are both popular. JiST serves breakfast and lunch, so if you arrive in Little Tokyo a bit early and are hankering for a bite, stop in here for your first meal of the day.

Related: Shopping Guide To LA’s Little Tokyo

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Fickle
362 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213) 628-1888
http://ficklela.com/

The style is hard to pin down, but lets call it American with a nod and a wink toward Asian fusion, done up smartly. Menu items are seasonal, but the avocado fries and molasses pork belly are universal crowd pleasers when they’re around. Fickle is already known as one of the best happy hour stopovers for those so inclined, with inviting indoor and outdoor seating.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Café Demitasse
135 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213)613-9300
http://cafedemitasse.com/

When you’re ready for a coffee break, there’s no better place than Demitasse. Whether it’s a cappuccino, drip, siphon, or the Dutch slow-drip ice coffee (these last two via Japan and, some say, refined there), the baristas roast their own from beans in season. They even offer a subscription for a fresh bag of roasted beans every other week.

Photo Credit: Daikokuya

Photo Credit: Daikokuya

Daikokuya
327 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213) 626-1680
http://www.daikoku-ten.com/

While ramen has been a way of life in Japan for decades, stateside, it is just becoming the dish-of-the-moment. The first name to come to the lips of die-hard ramen fans is Daikokuya. The Tonkotsu Ramen is the main fare for noodle addicts, but if a steaming bowl of hot noodles is too much for a LA afternoon, try the Tsukemen, cooled noodles in a dipping sauce made from the same delectable broth. A worthy second choice, or a neck-and-neck finisher, is nearby Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi (132 S Central Ave).

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Japadog

Japadog
Around 2nd St & San Pedro
Los Angeles, California 90012
(917) 687-9276
http://www.japadog.com/

Starting as a Vancouver food stand, Japadog began by dressing hotdogs with Japanese condiments and, eventually expanded to entrées such as the Terimayo Dog, the Yakisoba Dog, or the Kurogoma Kimchi Dog. One stand expanded to two, then to three, and then the Vancouver Olympics brought long lines and international press. The best part is the bill: $5.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Sushi

There are lots of options at every price point. If you want to go less expensive, try Kula Revolving Sushi Bar (333 E 2nd St). You don’t pay for atmosphere, but the conveyer belt it is fun—and kids love it. At the other end of the spectrum, Sushi Gen (422 E 2nd St, in the Honda Plaza) fits the bill. It is pricier but has better fish and atmosphere – and if you’re concerned about cost, their lunch special is a great value.

Related: The 5 Best Adventures For Your Rome Vacation

Barry Lancet grew up in California and has now lived in Tokyo for more than twenty-five years, an experience that has granted him access to many exclusive traditional and business circles. He is the author of the Jim Brodie mystery-thriller series, featuring an American Japan expert living in San Francisco. The first entry, Japantown, received three Best First Book citations and has been optioned for a television drama by J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Tokyo Kill, the second thriller in the series from Simon & Schuster, is out now and available wherever books are sold.

For more information, please visit http://barrylancet.com/ or look for Barry on Facebook and Twitter.
View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,692 other followers