J-town (Los Angeles) eats

If you've ever wondered "where to go to for what" in J-town, this is a special grubclub posting with tips culled from 8+ years of eating experience while working in J-town:

for JA diner fare:
Suehiro's still has the best spam musubi and other JA diner fare, but i also love Mitsuru Grill for their spam gacha (breakfast only), "honey stung fried chicken," salmon collars (when they have them), and broiled saba. [too bad Tokyo Garden had to close -- they had a great roast pork special, just like the kind my mom made... ]

for ramen:
Daikokuya - the best tonkotsu-style (pork-based broth) ramen around (see earlier "daikokuya" grubclub entry), but before it, there was Koraku, this little 70s-era, orange-boothed diner with a pretty varied menu, but i like their tonkotsu and popeye ramen specials.

other stuff:
the Korean BBQ place in Japanese Village Plaza is good for take-out (it's usually too crowded to eat in) -- lots of food for a fairly reasonable prices. we used to always order from here when we had meetings.

TOT used to have really good (and reasonably priced) lunch specials, but they seem to have gotten kind of pricey lately.

Sushi-Gen - for their sashimi lunch special

Mandarin Deli (now called something else, but i think the menu is still the same or similar) - loved their pork chop soup noodle and the preserved vegetable & shredded pork soup noodle. get both with the scallion pancake and some steamed (or pan-fried) dumplings and you're set for 3 people (or 4 light eaters).

Miki-chan's - Little Tokyo Towers: for when you feel like eating with a bunch of senior citizens. prices aren't that cheap anymore, but you're helping the cause (this place is run by Little Tokyo Service Center).

Mikawaya - for great shave ice. i like to get it with a scoop of ice cream on the bottom and azuki beans and condensed milk sponned over the top. mm mmm mmmmmm!

for Non-Asian food, still in J-town
Senor Fish - the lunch special is a good bargain: 2 tacos, rice and beans for $5 (i think it's still $5). also, great burritos (i like the scallop the best, but shrimp, carne asada and carnitas are also good, depending on your mood) that are as big as your head. you could finish one, but you'll be sleepy the rest of the afternoon.

Breadwinner - in lobby of medical bldg on third and san pedro (is it still there?). good sandwiches, reasonable prices. not great, but fair. [before Subway and Quizno's came to 1st street, this was pretty much the only place to get a decent sandwich]

410 Boyd - not Asian and not cheap, but has a great burger, BLT, and steak salad. also, their green apple caramel bread pudding is to die for. and they have happy hour drink specials.

but here are the *real* insider tips:

Poppy's (take-out only): this JA guy runs a snack shop in a tiny cubbyhole located in the lobby of Sumitomo (now Calif. Bank & Trust) building on 1st and San Pedro. he has GREAT chili & rice on Wednesdays. he also used to have good beef ribs (i think also on weds). other stuff: tacos, spaghetti and meatballs, salisburg steak... we only went consistently for the chili & rice (w/ wieners). lots of food at dirt cheap prices (less than $5). get there early (before noon is best) because he only makes a limited amount of food (how could he make more?? there's no room in there... ). once that's gone, he's out.

Mitsuwa snack bar - really cheap (and huge) bowls of ramen. again, i like the tonkotsu ramen. their chicken karaage is also pretty good, but they tend to run out of it if you don't get here early. can't speak for anything else on their menu, though. their sushi and other bento boxes are also good & cheap. and you can do some shopping while you're here!

Marukai - good bento boxes. better than enbun market

did i miss any? feel free to post comments.


Anonymous Top Dog said...

Some notes:
* The restaurant in Little Tokyo Towers is Reikai's Kitchen. It is unaffiliated with Little Tokyo Service Center. Never heard of Miki-chan's.
* Breadwinnner -- closed.
* La Tang Dynasty moved into the Mandarin Deli space on 2nd St.; similar menu but not quite as extensive.
* Senor Fish's fish taco lunch special around $6.
* Try the lunch specials at the taco truck on Wall & Boyd.

5/19/2005 6:18 PM  
Blogger illewminator said...

thanks for the corrections/ updates. it's been a few years since i was a regular in j-town. still, i have no idea where i got the name "miki-chan's"!!! the name must have come to me in a dream...

i've heard good things about the taco truck, but after a bad encounter with some seriously bug-infested lettuce, i have been loathe to return.

feel free to post other suggestions of your own.

5/24/2005 3:43 PM  
Anonymous top dog said...

I think we're talking about different trucks. The old truck had Vietnamese food, but they've taken their bug-infested lettuce elsewhere. The new truck at this corner is owned by Daisuke Dai-ichi and is operated by Olga, a Little Tokyo resident. Strictly Mexican food, and the specials are the best items.

For cheap beer and pub grub try either of the 2 happy hours (3-7pm & 10-closing) at Weiland Brewery.

5/25/2005 1:20 PM  

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