Izakaya Fu-ga: the Accidental Bar

The new Izakaya Fu-ga is one of those restaurants best stumbled into by accident. If you are actively looking for it, you will circle the block several times before you find the hidden entrance. If you are walking toward the more obvious pleasures of Suehiro or Kouraku, it just appears: a tiny sign, a long stairway to a basement, and a glowing marble bar designed to accommodate both beer geeks and cocktail snobs.

If you are looking for traditional izakaya cooking, a roster of simmered squid, cow tongue, and 12 kinds of seaweed, Fu-ga may not quite be the restaurant for you. This is a place to go for slightly evolved bar food: french fries tossed with crumbled nori and enough garlic to stun an eel; panko-crusted calamari steak with blue cheese dressing; baked scallops in foil; fried chile shrimp wrapped in rice paper; and exotic sushi rolls of every description — Crunchy Dragon rolls, Kamikaze rolls and the like. (Izakaya Fu-ga is owned by the restaurant chain Shogun, which, to put it mildly, is not the same as being owned by Nobu.) But it's a fun place to drink; a good place to fall into for a glass of La Chouffe and a plate of edamame after a Dodger game or a play at the Taper. Even the third or fourth time around, Fu-ga seems like a discovery, a small piece of a better downtown preserved 20 feet underground.

IZAKAYA FU-GA: 111 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo. (213) 625-1722,

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