After spending more than 20 years in the fine-dining industry, the duo behind Roll It Sushi & Teriyaki saw a need in the market for tasty sushi that is both affordable and fresh. Today, their eatery features 17 classic and specialty rolls along with a fun build-your-own sushi roll station. There, clients can choose from two wraps, nine veggies, and either eight cooked meats or four types of raw fish. In addition to sushi, the restaurant offers teriyaki-style bowls, plates, and sandwiches.
A breathtaking 21 stories above downtown Los Angeles, Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant gives guests views of the glittering city lights below. But Executive Chef Stan Ota’s gaze, however, never leaves the chopping boards and plates in front of him. Each maki roll and fresh-seafood dish he creates is born out of a lifetime of experience spent cooking Japanese- and French-style food. His cooking has garnered recognition from many trained palates, including British food critic Jay Rayner who put Ota’s restaurant on his list of where to find the world’s best foods.
In addition to seafood such as lobster rolls and lemon-albacore rolls, the extensive menu boasts a wide selection of fine robata, from filet mignon to baby lamp chops. Beyond these printed offerings, Ota also performs a feat of Japanese cookery called Omakase–which translates literally to “I’ll leave it to you”– improvising a five-course menu based upon the fresh-market ingredients gathered that day. To compliment meals, Ota puts an equal amount of thought into his cocktail list, which features exciting blends of liquors and spices. These drinks include lychee-infused mojitos, white-tea-rose martinis, and the Serrano kiss, spiced gin and lime with muddled Serrano chili.
Diners might default to tapas bars when seeking out small plates, but there’s one more term that should be added to their search: izakaya. This is the name for Japanese eateries that churn out “pub-style small plates,” according to the Los Angeles Business Journal; Itacho is one such eatery. Its menu is filled with shareable options, such as steamed clams in an asari-butter broth, seaweed marinated with vegetables, and agedashi tofu, deep-fried cubes that dip into flavorful sauces or into customers’ pockets should they want leftovers. The reviewer from the Journal also lauded the restaurant’s simple-yet-tasty selection of sushi, and, after finishing her meal, said, “[my] only regret is that [I] have not sampled more of the menu.”
From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Mushroom Medley - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Pork Gyoza Dumplings, and Chicken Karaage. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, grilled ahi tuna, or chicken with basil sauce until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
When one steps inside, Geisha House "can feel like another planet," says the Los Angeles Times. A self-described "surreal, high-class brothel," Geisha House pays homage to Japan's late-night history and adds modern twists such as backlit neon panels in sultry shades of red and pink. A curved mezzanine grants a bird's-eye view of candlelit tables crowned with specialty rolls full of burdock root, tempura flakes, torched lobster, and other adventurous ingredients. Chatter emanates from a 50-foot sake bar serving the Japanese rice liquor straight or poured into specialty cocktails, sips of which flank bites of carpaccio, mongolian lamb chops, and udon noodles in fragrant broths. A lively dance floor invites diners to remember the simple joy of motion and lets method actors cast as sprinklers fit in.
Chef Kenny Yamada crafts a menu of sushi and Japanese cuisine at R23, an arty little restaurant hidden away in an old railroad building a few blocks from Little Tokyo. His extensive inventory of fish assumes the form of both sashimi slices and maki rolls and includes several cuts of tuna, sea urchin, whole scallop, and octopus. Grilled black cod and steak with ponzu sauce number among the chef's cooked creations, and sake, Sapporo, and soju cocktails can be found behind the bar. R23's gallery-like ambiance suits its location in the Arts District. Large paintings hang from the walls and, most notably, compressed-cardboard chairs designed by Frank Gehry keep diners' bottoms off the floor.