Decades ago, Boyle Heights was mostly Jewish, with a good-sized Japanese population. Otomisan opened in Boyle Heights in 1956, and it’s still serving excellent food, in utterly charming digs. The food is familiar—teriyaki, tempura, and sukiyaki.

“But classics carried to wondrous heights are still wondrous nonetheless,” says SecretAsianMan. “Fundamentally, Mr. Hamada, the genial man-in-the-kitchen uses high quality ingredients and executes flawlessly.”

There’s juicy chicken, moist pork, and sweet shrimp. Gyoza are hand-folded and steam-fried to tender crispness, and the spider rolls are noteworthy, with creamy avocado, snappy cucumber, and meaty fried soft-shell crab. Seafood tempura is a monster of a dish, with huge prawns, squid rings, and a whole soft-shell crab, and batter that’s fantastically light, crispy, and barely oily.

Sukiyaki is the other specialty of the house, with plenty of beef and vegetables.

“I always think of this place as a ‘treasure’ in the historical sense,” says TonyC. “Surely there’s better food, but the staying power, the cultural significance, and the simple charm here is really hard to beat.”

Otomisan [East LA]
2506 E. First Street, Los Angeles

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