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Ask Mr. Gold: Izayaka 

Wednesday, Aug 30 2006
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Dear Mr. Gold:

Dear Mr. Gold:

Trying to save money these days is a top priority. And I’ve been hearing about izakaya, Japanese pubs with small plates and cold beer. This could be just what the economist ordered: a Metro to Little Tokyo, a meal cheaper than sushi, and lots of beer. Any suggestions downtown?

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—Tracy, Los Angeles

Dear Tracy:

There have always been izakaya in Los Angeles, from the pricey Ita-Cho to the long-defunct hangout Eyepop, which I always imagined to be infested with yakuza back in the late ’70s. The new breed of izakaya is relatively refined, from the exquisite rice-specialist Torafuku by the Westside Pavilion to the tapas-inspired Orris on Sawtelle, which probably slings as much Cabernet Sauvignon as it does sake. Izakaya cooking is the perfect ADD cuisine. But izakayas are properly kind of divey. And Haru Ulala, a tiny, smoky café in Little Tokyo, is almost perfect of the breed: specials on the walls; shoes stuck to the floor; steamed cow tongue, yellowtail with daikon radish, and simmered Kurobuta pork belly on the menu. The bill can add up fast if you’re not careful, but the individual menu items are pretty cheap, and the beer flows like water. 368 E. Second St., downtown, (213) 620-0977.

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