L.A.'s iconic Union Station has never exactly been a hotbed for food, but thanks to an extensive dining renovation under way, the city's public transit hub is showing some signs of life. The newest addition: A takeout-friendly outlet of Oto-Oto, a Japanese izakaya restaurant with a handful of locations across Los Angeles.
Oto-Oto Express, which opened this week, is offering Japanese to-go items such as bento boxes, teriyaki and poké bowls, sushi and onigiri rice balls to travelers and commuters, much in the style of the quick-serve convenience food you'll find at railway and bus stations throughout Japan. Backing Oto-Oto Express is Ramla, Japan’s third largest restaurant company, which developed the kiosk concept in partnership with Los Angeles–based restaurateur Yuji Ueno.
“People in Tokyo can pick up high-quality, prepackaged traditional Japanese foods on almost every corner, but this concept of fast-food has been missing in Los Angeles until now,” Ueno said.
As for bento box options, you can choose between a rotating selection of dishes such assalmon teriyaki, karaage (fried chicken), or grilled chicken yakitori. Each protein comes packaged with an assortment of pickled vegetables and a side of rice. The kiosk also will sell Japanese snacks such asPocky sticks, shrimp chips and Calpico drinks — the kind of stuff that can tide you over on a long train ride home. In the coming weeks, Oto-Oto plans to expand its menu with made-to-order ice cream-filled crepes, which are a popular dessert item in Japan.
Oto-Oto Express is located in Union Station East, directly below the Patsaourus Bus Plaza and adjacent to Vignes Street.