10 Best Eats in Little Osaka: Neighborhood Grub Crawl
|Kimchi ramen at Asahi|
When Asahi Ramen opened, twenty-six years ago, there was only one other ramen shop in the whole area. Not now. And with the yen so high against the dollar, many of them are Japanese-owned, which keeps the feel of the neighborhood intact. At Asahi, you can expect large bowls and not-so-large prices. The decor is simple and light, with pale tan tables and chairs filling a cafe-sized space. In addition to ramen -- the kimchi ramen, on the menu for the last three or so years, is stellar -- you can get cold and hot noodle dishes, also yakisoba, gyoza and many additional small plates. Cash only. 2027 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles; 310-479-2231.
A. Scattergood oden at Morinoya
Chef Takayuki Morishita opened Morinoya last spring, upstairs from Kiriko in the complex on the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle, serving yakitori, hot pots, noodles, sushi and sashimi -- and oden. Oden is a bowl of broth in which has been simmered many things, notably fish cakes and eggs, tofu and daikon, also suji niku (charmingly billed as "fibrous meat"), tofu and konjac, a traditional vegetable that's kind of like a cross between a plant and an eraser. A serious comfort food in Japan, where you can find it in steaming tubs in Tokyo 7-Elevens, oden is still somewhat hard to find in L.A. It shouldn't be, as it's the perfect light meal on a cold winter day. 11301 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 210 Los Angeles; 310-473-3960.
4. Ramen Jinya:
A. Scattergood tofu at Ramen Jinya
When the first Ramen Jinya opened in L.A., in a strip mall in Studio City, Angelenos went a little nuts, happy to have superior tonkotsu ramen available -- without having to drive to Gardena. Jinya's bowls of ramen, loaded with fine noodles and porky broth, seemed the Platonic ideal of ramen, and their house-made tofu, made tableside, seemed like our answer to flambeeing crepes at table. Since then, the Jinyas have multiplied, including this one in Little Osaka, which opened -- after a very, very long wait -- in June. Jinya's ramen may not be the best in L.A. anymore, now that we've had our ramen renaissance, but they're outstanding -- and the tofu is still worth the show. 2208 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles; 310-481-0977.
G. Snyder okonomiyaki at Gottsui
Okonomiyaki is one of the great pleasures of Japanese cuisine, a massive pancake of savory batter and bonito and mayonnaise (and, depending on your whim, shrimp, squid, bacon, potato, fried egg, etc.) that, ideally, you assemble yourself on a hot griddle in the center of your table. Sometimes servers do this for you; sometimes they do not. But however your dinner is made, it's a blissful assembly (or mess, really) of ingredients. At Gottsui, you watch the dish being made in the open kitchen, enormous cakes that then arrive on hot skillets. Finally, a reason to use a trowel in the context of the kitchen. 2119 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles; 310-478-0521.
11301 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA