The Best Japanese Food in LA

Los Angeles has a bustling food scene; as a culinary enthusiast born and raised in La La Land, I have had the opportunity to explore LA’s dynamic world of food throughout my life. The diverse culture of Los Angeles allows the city to be considered a center of the world, and its food culture can attest to that. Almost every cuisine has its own colorful scope in Los Angeles, so I decided to begin by highlighting some of my favorite Japanese restaurants in LA.

Hinoki and the Bird ($$$)

Butter Lobster Ramen

Although I cannot say the fusion dish I am recommending is authentically Japanese, I can say it is truly delectable. Every component of the Butter Lobster Ramen — from the decadent seafood broth, the buttery crustacean, to the freshly made noodles—makes this dish worthy of being named the ultimate ramen dish of Los Angeles. Aside from the unique, innovative dishes, the ambiance is trendy, sophisticated, and characteristically “LA”; you might even spot a celebrity or two as you slurp on your ramen; I saw Tyra Banks on my last trip here.

Marugame Monzo ($$)

Sea Urchin Udon

Marugame Monzo adds dimension to the popular ramen culture of Los Angeles by switching ramen with udon (a fluffier, chewier, softer, wider noodle), pork broth with sea urchin cream sauce, and pork with uni. Some popular dishes include their Mentai Squid Butter Udon and the Seafood Tomato Udon. My favorite is the Sea Urchin Udon. Udon, a sibling of ramen, is definitely worth trying at Monzo as it’s made freshly in-house.

Sushi Gen ($$$)

Sashimi Special

This hidden gem in Little Tokyo has rightfully attracted long waits for over three decades. Sushi Gen uses the best ingredients like market-fresh fish in every dish they present, making them my go-to sushi bar in Los Angeles. I consistently order the Sashimi Special ($15 at lunch, $26 at dinner) — a collage of raw fish that vary in kind each time it’s ordered.

Mainland Poke ($$)

You can’t leave Los Angeles without succumbing to the poke craze that has undoubtedly swept the city by a storm. As an avid poke consumer, I’ve tried numerous poke restaurants across the greater Los Angeles area but Mainland Poke stands out because of its sushi-grade fish and offering of kale as a base — the quality ingredients make all the difference. Fad or not, Mainland Poke is a healthy and flavorful spot I will continue visiting for a long time to come.

Mikkoji ($$)

Hotpot restaurants are sprinkled throughout LA, particularly in the San Gabriel Valley. Most of them are Taiwanese or Chinese, but Mikkoji is noteworthy because it adds a distinct Japanese spin on traditional hotpot. A meal at Mikkoji is a feast with the finest seasonings; you’re even given a sesame seed grinding tool to smash sesame seeds to add on top of your food for maximum flavor. My typical order includes squid ink porridge and crab broth. Did I mention the hot pot comes with unlimited vegetables?

I have had the opportunity to visit Japan over 10 times so far and have fallen more in love with Japanese cookery with each trip. I may not be able to fly to Japan every time I’m craving fresh sashimi or perfectly cooked ramen noodles, but these restaurants in Los Angeles certainly make for competitive replacements. Both my local and out-of-town friends and family often ask me for food recommendations because they trust my suggestions more than what they find online — especially when fake reviews have become more common. So, I organized and compiled a list on TripVerse of my favorite Japanese eats to share with my fellow Japanese food fans. You can start satisfying your Japanese cravings through Los Angeles too:

You can make your own list and share your favorite itineraries, restaurants, activities, and more with your friends and family by pressing the “+” button.

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