Izakaya is the Japanese equivalent of bar food: small dishes meant to be enjoyed along with alcohol, much like Spanish tapas, and served and eaten at a leisurely pace. At Morinoya, Chef Morishita Takayuki (formerly of Place Yuu) serves exceptional, upscale versions of izakaya dishes that are worth lingering over, says J.L.

“The essence of the excellent food I enjoyed at Place Yuu is very much alive at Morinoya,” says J.L. The atmosphere is appropriately cozy and casual, “but the food is definitely meticulously conceived and prepared.” Classic izakaya dishes are perfectly executed, such as pan-fried shishito peppers, oden (a traditional dashi-based soup) with egg and beef tendon, and yakitori (grilled seasoned chicken). A less traditional “must-get,” says J.L., is the mini soy-milk hot pot, served with charming ceremony. “A clay tabletop furnace lined with hot binchotan coals is brought out,” says J.L. “Then, a hot pot with soymilk base and [five] different assorted mushrooms (shiitake, eryngii, enoki, shimeji & maitake) emerges. The resulting soup is phenomenal. The earthiness of the mushrooms is tempered by the lightness of the soymilk.”

The sushi selection is not particularly extensive, J.L. says, but it’s all of very high quality, from marinated salmon roe to albacore nigiri. $85 per person, before tax and tip, was enough to leave J.L. “stuffed to the gills” and ready to return for more. “Just please save me a seat, Mori-san.”

Morinoya [Westside – Inland]
11301 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 210, Los Angeles

Discuss: Izakaya a step above – The fantastic cuisine of Morinoya [REVIEW + PHOTOS]

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