- Crystal Ho
Situated in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo offers a delightful stroll into Japanese-American culture. Humble in size, this charming, walkable district is known for an abundance of compact eateries, both urban locales and multi-generational, family-owned spots. Check out out guide to the best venues in Little Tokyo.
This modern venue has lines forming outside for their delicious udon noodles. Try to sit near the front row seats at the bar to see the chefs roll out freshly made thick noodles. Some signature items at Marugame Monzo include the sea urchin (uni) cream udon and the Mentai squid butter udon; make sure to add a side of tempura soft-boiled egg for maximum delight.
Marugame Monzo, 329 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 346 9762
As a popular ramen chain with various locations across Southern California, Daikokuya originated in Little Tokyo. Recalling the small shop features that ramen shops in Japan traditionally retain, Daikokuya is best known for their Daikoku ramen and spicy miso ramen specials. As an insider tip, order the ramen in koterri flavor for a richer broth that is extracted from back fat.
Daikokuya, 327 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 626 1680
With high-quality fish raved about by people across L.A., it is no wonder that lines form out the door of this sushi restaurant established in 1980. Located in the Honda Plaza of Little Tokyo, Sushi Gen leaves their guests’ mouths watering for more of their sashimi deluxe plate. Come prepared to empty your wallet in exchange for an experience with the legacy of their savory, fresh sashimi.
Sushi Gen, 422 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 617 0552
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen
Originating from Japan, Shin-Sen-Gumi offers their version of Hakata ramen, a white, pork-bone-based soup containing thinner noodles, and decorative toppings of cha-shu (sliced pork belly), chopped scallions, red colored ginger, and sesame seeds. The ramen shop also allows guests to add extra toppings to their ramen, such as flavored eggs, wontons, spicy miso paste, or even bacon. With limitless options, Shin-Sen-Gumi is another must-try ramen shop in Little Tokyo.
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen, 132 S. Central Ave., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 687 7108
For a late-night Japanese craving or quick lunch, Suehiro Cafe offers a comforting assortment of traditional favorites. Specials here include classic pork cutlets, Japanese curry plates, tempura, and chicken karage (which is basically deep fried chicken pieces).
Suehiro Cafe, 337 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 626 9132
For a delicious gluten-free, vegetarian option without giving up the delights of Japanese cuisine, Shojin tastefully crafts rolls and dishes featuring organic vegetables whenever possible. On top of the ‘Crunchy Tiger Hidden Dragon’ or the ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ rolls, the restaurant also features a vegetarian ramen burger. Finish off with a decadent Matcha tiramisu or chocolate turtle mousse that is free from refined sugar, chemicals, additives, or preservatives.
The Shojin, 333 S. Alameda St., Ste 310, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 617 0305
Plates of small dishes featuring Kinjiro beef tongue, squid ink udon, Wagyu steak, and bone marrow dengaku are this restaurant’s answer to tapas. Named after a noble statesmen that brought food and happiness to Japan, Kinjiro brings small tastes from a traditional culture to form a delicious, full-course meal.
Kinjiro, 424 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 229 8200
Fresh fish and delectable pieces of sushi come from Sushi Komasa, located on the outskirts of Little Tokyo’s Japanese Village Plaza. The small interior causes lines to form during peak hours outside, but be drawn in by beautifully marbled pieces of salmon, and perfectly pink slices of albacore.
Sushi Komasa, 351 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 680 1792
To have a taste of Japanese street snacks, the best place to try in Little Tokyo is Mitsuru Cafe, which serves delicious, miniature red bean cakes, chicken karage, shrimp balls, macaron ice cream sandwiches, and mochi balls on a stick. Enjoy these treats while strolling through the historic Japanese Village Plaza.
Mitsuru Cafe, 117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 613 1028
For those that need to satisfy a sweet tooth, head over to Cafe Dulce for a variety of uniquely flavored donuts. Choose from the signature ‘Green Tea Donut,’ the ‘Bacon Donut Hole,’ the ‘Blueberry Roti,’ and many more delicious pastries. Accompany your meal with Hong Kong-style milk tea or iced blueberry matcha latte to top it all off.
Cafe Dulce, 134 Japanese Village Plaza, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, CA, USA, +1 213 346 9910