In all my time living in LA I had one major failure. Well maybe more than one failure, but one of them is not making a trip to Daikokuya. Fortunately, that ramen spot set up an outpost over in Little Little Tokyo. It has a crazy wait, but when you step inside it feels like you’ve really stepped onto a street in Japan (as evidenced by that picture to the left inside the place).
A with most entertainment, things are not always as they appear. Reality TV isn’t always reality, “based on a true story” is typically nothing like the truth and Guy Fieri doesn’t actually drive that red convertible to every diner, drive-in and dive. Likewise, food almost always looks better in ads and on TV than in real life. Nonetheless, after watching Seoul Sausage on the last season of The Great Food Truck Race and subsequently learning that the winning crew had put up a bick-and-mortar shop, I knew I had to get some of their sausages in my mouth.
Japanese curry and I go way back. From the start, it has been a loving relationship, but I must admit I have a couple of places I like to get it from and don’t often get outside of that box. Curry House is not one of these places, and although it resides across the street from Hurry Curry of Tokyo, my go-to Japanese curry place, I never felt the need for Curry House. Yet, with a big group one night, Curry House was kind of our only option and we took it.
It’s not every day you get an opportunity to chow down on some okonomiyaki. Of course, it’s not every or even every millennium that you even hear the word okonomiyaki. While not nearly as famous as just about any other Japanese food, okonomiyaki is equally, if not more awesome. My first taste of okonomiyaki goes back to my days of studying abroad in Japan. It was described to me as “Japanese Pizza,” which it is, as long as your only requirements for pizza are for it to be edible, flat and have toppings with no regard for the ingredients.
In one of my favorite parts of town, Little Little Tokyo (or Little Osaka if you swing that way), there is a Korean restaurant called Tofu Ya. Certainly, the existence of the word “tofu” within a restaurant’s name is a red flag for an unvegan, but while perusing the area one day, I found myself inside checking out the menu. It turned out that it wasn’t simply a vegetarian place and it smelled damn good, so we gave it a spin.
Guys, I’ll admit it. I’m a Chinese food snob. But I like to think you would be if you once lived there too. For that reason I’m glad I live in LA, but sad that I live on the west side, about half a light-year from the real Chinese food in San Gabriel. That all changed, however, when ROC Kitchen opened up in the area I like to call Little Little Tokyo, but is fast becoming Little Asia with an influx of other Asian food like ROC Kitchen.
On a drunken evening in Osaka, I vaguely recall punching buttons on an old school lotto-style machine at a ramen restaurant. The result was some of the most delicious drunk food I have ever eaten. Fast forward to 2012 and Tsujita continues its stranglehold on the ramen scene of Little Little Tokyo in West LA. Yet, it is not alone in ramen. Tatsu sits just down the road and has taken that machine concept I encountered in Osaka into modernity.
Oh, Little Little Tokyo, the gem of the LA’s west side. Aside from Little Ethiopia, there’s really nowhere else that you can be driving along regular LA streets, suddenly find yourself in a foreign country for two blocks, and then pop back out into regular LA again. There’s a pretty steady stream of awesome restaurants and stores in this foreign territory and for this review a group of us headed to FuRaiBo. In order to be seated immediately, we had to sit in their floor room (like a tatami room, without the tatami). This meant sitting on the floor. While this sort of seating is not common in modern Japan, it certainly still exists. The trouble with this seating at FuRaiBo, however, is that their floor seating gives a distinct lack of leg room, such that my legs couldn’t even get under the table. Nonetheless, while seating played a role in the meal, it didn’t define it.