Westsiders take note. You don’t have to go all the way Downtown to experience Little Tokyo. This little strip of Sawtelle Blvd is the mini Westsider destination for all things Japanese. You can easily walk the short stretch of Sawtelle Blvd that is chock full of Izakaya & Japanese cuisine ready to broaden your horizons beyond sushi. In addition to the great food, you get a healthy dose of Japanese Culture by way of boutiques, karaoke bars & Asian Spas. Here’s just a quick taste.
Orris – If the Japanese had tapas, this would be it. Chef Shiro is a master with small plates. He blends French cooking with Japanese flavors & the result is delicious.
Chabuya Noodle Bar – This is the Ramen House. Noodles all day long.
Robata-Ya (skewers) – This would be your neighborhood pub, if they barbecued mini skewers & served sake. They have a great happy hour & you can order ordinary things like grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon or be adventurous & try the deep fried chicken cartilage (kara-age). My personal favorite: grilled shishito peppers and Yaki-Onigiri (grilled rice ball).
Curry House – for true Japanese Curry. If you have never had a delicious flaky breaded pork cutlet (Pork Katsu) with Japanese curry, you are in for a treat.
Black Market – Filled with great low brow art, clothing & knickknacks worthy of urban hipsters. All the hand selected items are filled with healthy dose of dark humor and disdain for authority (and that is a good thing). This is where I found Fomato: the most amazing greeting card creator of all time.
Giant Robot – The magazine is Asian at its core but pop culture to the max & the store is a wunderkamen of beautiful beasties. If you don’t understand what I mean, perhaps you should just check it out.
There is the huge Mitsuwa Market on Centinela where you can find everything from freshly baked red bean buns to the infamous Pocari Sweat. In addition to the market itself, you can pick up quick eats right there in their Japanese food court: ramen, soba, & bento boxes are all available.