Farbar (Far East Cafe)
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You want hip and exclusive and cool? Then go to Farbar in Little Tokyo.
It’s so strange. You go and try to look up the history of the Far East Cafe Building in Little Tokyo, you get a very long, detailed history of it’s being damaged in the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. That’s all good. That’s important.
But what I think about when I’m here, is the importance it holds for a generation of Japanese-Americans.
This is America we’re talking about. There were still a lot of ugly times for Japanese-Americans, not just during World War II, but well before and unfortunately well after. It took a couple of years for immigration laws to change after the war. And California was not always the liberal bastion of tolerance it is today. So for generations of Japanese-Americans, their neighborhoods, their little enclaves where they called home, was the only place they knew they were safe, where they welcome, where they were free to be Americans.
A friend of mine was telling me that his parents, both second generation Japanese-Americans (Nisei), both of whom were interred at Jerome, Arkansas during the way met here for their first date. I can only imagine that there were similiar stories for a lot of Japanese Americans, that whole generation I was talking about. The same would be true in the Black Community, where restrictions and limitations forced us into small boxes of where we could go and where we could eat. That kind of limitation is a constant reminder…and a bad one. It doesn’t produce the warm and fuzzies, let’s put it that way. One might even turn one’s wrath on the rare establishment that would take your business. It’s an irrational wrath, but it can happen.
But that anger fades over time, and resentment can turn into nostalgia…and love.
That’s what I was feeling and thinking about sitting in the Far East Cafe part of the restaurant. It is so old world. Well…old world for Los Angeles. You push through those doors and your step back a bit in time.
Granted the Flat Screen Televisions are a big giveaway, but still…
You look up at the old Speaker for the radio, hanging there on the wall. You look at the old wood booths. You can see what the Far East Cafe was back in her day.
Out back in the alley, the Owners…I guess…appropriated…repurposed the back alley and turned it to a very nice, happening bar all. It’s a place that makes you feel like you’re in the know when you worm your way back there.
This may be the entrance you’re looking for.
Farbar itself is deceptively large. I mean, you don’t think you’re headed into a massive space when you duck down the alley. But within a few feet you see a LOT of space to sit. You turn around and…well, you’ll already see a mess of people kicking back, having a beer, maybe a little lunch. The noise of First Street has mostly faded, and turned into quiet bits of conversation and laughter. Round the corner again, and you find yourself face to face with Farbar itself, a small, some would say cozy little nook in the back of the Far East Cafe, and…of course, the heart of the operation.
It has been called one of the best bars in Los Angeles, and there is no way in hell I would disagree. It is a happy place. It’s a place to escape your troubles, have a beer and laugh and get away from it all. Long after the Hipsters have gone, I’ll still be finding my way here and enjoying myself.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I’m going to have a beer. I don’t know about you.
Also, they’ve got a wall, with a chalkboard (again, we likey the Chalkboards) with nothing but Bourbons on it. And I mean a LOT of Bourbons. I gave up counting after 30.
But that’s just the Bar part of Farbar. There’s also food too. Lots of food. So of course, I went with the FarBar Tacos.
Now you really can’t go wrong with the Tacos. I myself went with the Sake braised pork, but their Sapporo beer braised beef short rib looked damn good as well. You get three tacos to a place, and for seven bucks that’s a pretty good deal. There’s even a shrimp option for those seafood-inclined of you.
Following that, I went with the Chicken Flatbread. Now, you may be thinking Chicken Flatbread so way, but look what they put on this bad boy: diced Chicken, Korean chili cream, mozzarella, green onion.
Korean chili cream!!
What…is Korean chili cream? I later said to myself. Because I soon realized I had NO idea.
Does matter, I like it with Chicken. I like it on Flatbread.
On top of everything else, Farbar also does a Weekend Brunch that I’ll have to indulge in one of these days. From what I can tell, it’s is pretty straight head. Brunch at Farbar is served Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm. It’s twelve bucks. With that, you get an entree and two sides. For three bucks more you get that same deal with bottomless Mimosas.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just remember you can get in through either the alleyway entrance (leading to Farbar itself) or go right into the Far East Room. It’s all the same restaurant, with the same menu.
Also, is there a Maryland fan working there. I went to on two separate, back to back weekends, and both times, there was a Maryland game on. My Alma Mater (Class of 1991) isn’t exactly a College Football power, so I was wondering if it was just coincidence…
PARKING: Same as everywhere else in Little Tokyo. Before you go, check our link to the Little Tokyo Parking Map. As you’ll be able to see, there are small lots or garages everywhere. Just pick a place, pay the seven bucks and you’re cool. Consult our Little Tokyo Parking Map just in case.
347 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 617-9990
Mon-Fri 11 am – 2 am
Sat-Sun 10 am – 2 am