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East Japanese Restaurant ~ Little Tokyo

12:01 PM PDT on August 3, 2006

East Japanese Restaurant

329 E. 1st St. ~ (213) 437-0563~ Little Tokyo ~ Downtown (TACO MAP)

I'm no expert on which Little Tokyo place busts the best ramen, and I think East might be a chain, but I sure do like the cut of their jib. It is a comfortable little spot heavy on bamboo and posters from Samurai and gangster flicks, earning serious cool points. Tables are laid out in the front, with a bar-sized area for the sushi chefs in the back.

The service is cordial and the general atmosphere is very welcoming, a sort of cross between a low-key Izakaya and a traditional eatery on the country road to Edo. Their menu has seemingly everything from yakitori to terriyaki, ramen, and sushi. It's sort of like Japanese food 101...

Udon at East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant

Hot tea was poured beside our cold Kirin drafts. The sushi at East is not going to put Nobu or Urusawa out of business anytime soon. Nonetheless, it is simple, artful, and tasty. Our unagi (eel) rolls were drizzled in long, wavy strokes of soy-based unagi sauce. The flavor was strongly sweet, the texture soft, and the rice firm.

My udon noodles were brought out in a bowl that had a medieval feel, a sort of iron-sided, heavy-duty earthenware. The rootsy blend inside is dense with foliage, chives, seaweed, and a giant piece of tempura shrimp. My favorite ingrdient exists in the slightly boiled egg that is slipped in the bowl. As the egg breaks, the hot soup beings to cook the runny yolk within the broth, adding a barely solid, gooey prescence. The broth itself has a very sweet, comforting taste, though the tempura has nary a chance of staying crisp when it is saturated like this. The noodles keep very firm, and have a solid consistency that keeps them intact as you slurp away. The broth is truly delectable, we slurped it up until we were staring at an end empty bowl. For a price under $7

East Japanese Restaurant

We'll keep coming to East. It's a good deal, cool and cozy environment that makes us feel all warm inside, and very good food at very good prices.

East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant
East Japanese Restaurant
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