Dear Mr. Gold:
I was wondering if you had any ideas for a place to eat after 10 p.m. in Little Tokyo or downtown. We're meeting a group of people for dinner after a movie, and we wanted to try something outside of the normal sushi/ramen/izakaya stuff.
--Victor-Schechter, via Facebook
Dear Mr. or Ms. Victor-Schechter:
The Little Tokyo after-movie thing -- also known as after-opera or after-theater -- has definitely improved in the years since Suehiro was the automatic call. With Shin-Sen-Gumi in the neighborhood, now there are two decent places for late-night ramen; with the introduction of Fuga, Toronoko and Raku, the izakaya scene is edging toward critical mass.
There is great after-theater eating all over downtown, including the Jewish-Scottish food at The Gorbals, Urbano Pizza Bar, the surprisingly good pizza at Bottega Louie and the bar menu at Rivera. But for the first time, the most interesting places in Little Tokyo are not necessarily Japanese, and not necessarily Pete's blue-cheese fries or Wurstküche's grilled sausages and beer. Lazy Ox is maybe L.A.'s most refined small-plates restaurant at the moment; Joseph Centeno's braised meats are perfect for chilly nights. You can get Flying Pig's pork buns and diver scallops with smoked mango until midnight. The Spice Table, also open until midnight, serves excellent modernized Singaporean food with an emphasis on satays, orchestrated by the former chef of Pizzeria Mozza. Or, hell -- try Fat Spoon for a hit of modernized Japanese curry.