It’s official: Izakaya is the new sushi. The small-plates Japanese cuisine popping up all over is casual, big-group sharable, and easy on the wallet. Started back in 1700s Japan as cheap sake bars for workmen, it’s now a tapas-style craze organized by food type (veggies, meat, rice), or cooking method (grilled, fried, or simmered). Grab a group of friends and head to Little Tokyo, L.A.’s izakaya central.
- Aburiya Toranoko: We love the homemade tofu with uni (sea urchin), and arugula and heirloom-tomato salad with mackerel sashimi.
- Honda-Ya: Japanese eggplant with sweet miso and yakitori is the specialty here.
- Haru Ulala (213/620-0977): Try the slow-braised black pork belly (kakuni) and the classic okonimiyaki pancake with squid, pork, and other surprises in every bite.
- Raku Plus (213/625-1751): The Korean-influenced menu pairs tuna carpaccio with kimchi, but also has Euro fusion twists like prosciutto with eggplant.