This summer, I was working part-time in City Hall and since its pretty hard to get to Chinatown, or downtown proper in a short lunch hour, I focused all my energies on Little Tokyo and vowed to try as many different places as I could. Many of these restaurants have been recommended by previous posters, so thank you!
1.AOI: After an excruciatingly long meeting on my first day of work, I grabbed a late lunch at this little restaurant and I thought to myself This is the best chicken terikyaki I have ever tasted!! I know it sounds like an exaggeration but the skin was perfectly pan-fried till crispy, the meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was not the cloyingly sweet kind. Its a simple dish that is so easy to get wrong with fatty meat, bottled sauces, or over-cooking. Accompanied by a shredded lettuce salad, a few pieces of tuna sashimi, miso soup, sunomono, and rice, it really was not the fanciest food (except for that wonderful chicken!) but the service was warm they even scoop your rice for you and I enjoy patronizing family owned restaurants.
2.Mikawaya Sometimes, on a really hot day or when I felt the need to treat myself I went to Mikwaya in the Little Tokyo Village Plaza to get gelato for dessert. So far, I have tried their passion fruit, green tea, and white peach gelatos. Their fruit flavored gelatos are quite natural tasting. $2.69/2 scoops.
3. Suehiro Café: had the Mixed Chuzake, which is a bowl with rice, (fish ?) broth, cooked and flaked salmon meat, codfish roe, and maybe a few slices of nori. It was a really homey dish that you just mix up and eat with a spoon (an extremely light lunch) but it reminds me of how I use up leftover rice and soup at home. Itd be nice as a snack on a cold day.
4.Fugetsu-Do: tried the green tea with red bean filling, and lime with white bean mochi. The rice cake part was indeed really soft and chewy. The lime was kind of astringent and reminded my mother of eating Lysol.
5.Koraku I had actually followed another group of lunchers in because I heard one woman saying they had the best sukiyaki in Little Tokyo. I dont know about that, but it was HUGE. It was enough for two lunches. Slices of beef, napa cabbage, bamboo, fresh shitake mushrooms, a raw egg, which I mixed in, yam noodles (I wish there had been more). It was a nice change since I hadnt had sukiyaki in a long time, but the broth sweeter than most Ive tasted. Most people around me were eating ramen, so perhaps that would have been a better choice. Next time.
6. Curry House I went while they were having their annual anniversary sale and pretty much, Id only go if they were having this sale. Not that I dont like katsu or those wonderful pickles that are on the condiment trays on every table, but its just so much gravy! And so much katsu! But its really reliable always tastes the same. I guess thats part of the drawback I feel as if they have a pot of their bubbling packaged sauces and thats what I get.
7.Sushi Go-55 in the Little Tokyo Plaza. I had never been here before, in fact, I never knew that plaza existed it was on the edge of Little Tokyo. When I first walked in, I noticed the distinct smell of fish. And as Food Network has taught us all, fish should never smell fishy. But I was in a group, hungry, and forgot about the smell really quickly. And if its any reassurance, no one in my party got ill. Their lunch special consists of 5 pieces of sushi, one blue crab hand roll and assorted salads. Its been a while and I posted about this awhile ago, but the best piece was the seared albacore it was just so tender and flavorful!! There was a another type of seaweed salad (sorry dont know its name) but resembles steeped tea leaves that I just love. The crab hand roll was a piece of nori wrapped around nothing but pure crab meat and a few at my party ordered extras. I thought it was good crab meat but since it was so plain, it didnt wow me. I believe theres a coupon on city search for 10% off and if you have a late lunch (after 2 you get free ice cream with your lunch).
AOI: 331 E. 1st St.
Mikawaya: 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
Suehiro Cafe: 337 E. 1st St.
Fugetsu - Do:315 E 1st St
Koraku: 314 E. 2nd Ave.
Curry House:123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St
Sushi Go 55:333 S Alameda St # 317