Straight ahead Japanese in Little Tokyo…but off the beaten path.
Cold, and alone, he wandered the desolate streets of Los Angeles…
…is how I’d open my Crime Noir novel set in 1930s L.A.
This, of course, ain’t that.
It’s actually hot as blazes today, and I’m left wandering the streets of of Los Angeles, looking for something to eat.
Of course, Flying Pig is closed, and apparently so is the Lazy Ox. Kokekokko doesn’t open until dinner time, and everywhere else it seems, I’ve been to before: Orochon, Shin-Sen-Gumi (in San Gabriel), even Spitz (though in Glendale).
Where to go, where to go?
Okay, there’s this place: Ebisu Japanese Tavern.
You walk in, and…well, you can see what it’s going for. In my mind, it’s trying to produce the feeling of something you might find in Tokyo. A place where a Salaryman can come with a few friends, have a few beers, and relax before going home. There’s a big wooden boat in the center, and lots and lots of stalls everyone.
Man, I can imagine this joint a’ jumpin’ at night.
So of course, I came here for Lunch.
It’s probably a little quiet for it’s own good at lunchtime. Then again, Ebisu Japanese Tavern is located a bit off the main drag of 1st Street. It sits in the shadow of the Japanese Village. It is not the greatest Japanese place in town.
But I still think you ought to try it.
It’s sad to say, but when you food blog as much as I do, frequently you go to a place, and you run into problems. The hours don’t match what was on the website. You forgot the place is closed on Tuesday, and you thought it was Wednesday. You always leave the house with a plan “B”. (I’ve even had to resort to Plans “C” and “D” on occasion, but it’s rare).
Ebisu Japanese Tavern is the perfect plan “B” place.
Now, I don’t want to get the folks who run Ebisu Japanese Tavern all mad at me, but the restaurant is cool because it serves a little bit of everything, and if you’re new to Japanese cuisine (God forbid), it’s a prefect way to dive in. But unlike a Ramen place, or a Shabu-Shabu joint, or a place like Fugestu-Do, it doesn’t specialize in one thing. That’s both good news and bad news.
So, consider this a 101 place, a place to pick up on the basics of Japanese cooking, but if you want the latest and greatest…
I started off with the Agedashi Tofu, which as a dedicated meat-eater, is something I enjoy regardless. It’s a must order if I see it on the menu. There was something a bit sweeter about this concoction that I’ve had in the past. Not bad, and a touch bit different. I’d order it again for sure.
Then I when real old school, and ordered Soba Noodles. Japanese Buckwheat noodles served cold. Pick up with chopsticks, dip in a bath of noodle base, slurp and enjoy. What more could you ask for. Delicious.
Fortunately, I remembered that episode of No Reservations where Tony had Soba with two prominent Japanese skiers. A Soba master showed them all how to apply just a little Wasabi to your noodle base to give it extra flavor.
So I took a small dollop, barely the size of drop, and I liked it.
I tried another drop, and I liked it still more.
I tried to get more ambitious, and…well…my nasal passages were clear for a month.
Over-spicing my food. This is a habit I’ve got to break.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing too complicated about this place. The most important thing to remember is that the place is off the beaten path. It’s easily found, if you’re looking for it. Get past the Japanese Village, hang that right onto 2nd Street, and you’re there. It’s parked in shadow, but you should be able to see it.
PARKING: Difficult. Ebisu Japanese Tavern doesn’t have it’s own lot, and no Valet to speak of at lunch. So, I parked across the street at the Japanese Village, which is going to cost you $10 bucks, but it’s so stinkin’ close, it’s worth the price.
Ebisu Japanese Tavern
356 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 613-1644
Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 1:00 am
Friday-Saturday: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 1:30 am