10 Best Eats in Little Tokyo: Neighborhood Grub Crawl
|skewers at Kokekokko|
Japanese cuisine may be associated in the popular imagination with fish, but your next meal is all poultry. Kokekokko (just around the corner from Hold Up and 2nd St. Jazz) sells chicken. Breast, thigh and wings. Gizzard, heart and skin. Meatballs and quail eggs. All served on skewers that have been grilled over charcoal in traditional yakitori style. The grill, rather than being tucked into the kitchen, is at the center of the restaurant, surrounded on three sides by counter seating. From time to time smoke billows up around the grill and wafts into the restaurant, as if just another element of the decor. The restaurant requires each guest order at least five skewers, but will not refuse you a doggie bag. From Kokekokko, walk to 1st St. and turn left. 203 S. Central Ave., L.A.; 213-687-0690.
4. Far Bar:
D. Solomon the bar at Far Bar
As the day wanes, the drinking hour begins. Choose Far Bar for its exhaustive menu -- two dozen craft beers, roughly 40 Japanese beers, and nearly 40 on draught. Plus approximately 300 whiskies, among other spirits. And cocktails, wine, and sake. Phew! Also choose Far Bar for the chance to step back in time to 1935 when the restaurant opened as the Far East Café with a menu of Americanized Chinese food. (Note the iconic "Chop Suey" sign.) If you want a snack, consider the pizza cooked on a puff pastry "roti" crust, or the teriyaki sliders. Then head to Central Ave. 347 E. First St., L.A.; 213-617-9990.
3. The Spice Table:
Anne Fishbein sambal potatoes at The Spice Table
The Spice Table may evince a trendy L.A. look with its brick walls, high ceilings, vintage-looking birdcage accessories and exposed light bulbs. But the food brings you on a journey far from home, to the streets of Singapore and Vietnam. Like potatoes fried with house-made sambal, a hot chile sauce. Or satay, skewers of chicken, beef, and lamb belly. And grilled pig's tail accented with fish sauce. Little wonder chef Bryant Ng was recently named a "Best New Chef" by Food & Wine. Eat here while you can -- Spice Table must relocate in several months due to construction on a new Metro station. When you leave, stroll to the Doubletree Hotel (formerly the Kyoto Grand) on Los Angeles St. between 2nd and 3rd streets. Take the lobby elevator up to the picturesque rooftop gardens, where graceful trees frame the downtown skyline. 114 S. Central Ave. L.A.; 213-620-1840.
2. Lazy Ox Canteen:
Lazy Ox Canteen short ribs at Lazy Ox Canteen
Take the day's last few bites at the Lazy Ox Canteen. For three years, this small-plates restaurant on one of Little Tokyo's calmest streets has served up an imaginative New American menu with global influences. If Spice Table's grilled pig tail intrigued you, try the Lazy Ox's much-admired fried pig ears. Craving veggies? Consider the roasted yams, caramelized cauliflower, and blistered shishito peppers. Oysters, clams, and octopus are on the menu too, plus a hearty oxtail ragu. Or go straight to the rice pudding. After bidding the Ox adieu, continue on San Pedro St. to 3rd St. for your final stop. 241 S. San Pedro St. Los Angeles; 213-626-5299.
410 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA