Here’s the deal about second place. It is a nice looking ribbon to pin on your vision board (tool).
Aburiya Toranoko is owned by the Laxy Ox folk, the restaurant immediately beside it in Little Toyko. In this case unfortunately, second place doesn’t cut it.
Laxy Ox is pretty awesome. It’s a huge menu (both the regular and ever changing specials) of surprising flavors and ingredient combinations housed in a rocking space that stirs passion in both food obsessed and food ambivalent alike.
Toranoku, by no means a failed venture, just doesn’t live up.
The restaurant shares a similar cool aesthetic. The music allows for one to want to program KCRW and download every track. The staff is committed to making sure your experience rocks. The art painted directly on the walls totally jives with where you are.
But the food, and there were four of us to bandy its qualities about, didn’t wow.
The company was great, the vibe was great, the evening was great. The dishes (listed below) were fine-ish. And when you’re next door to a restaurant that may flame out one dish and then blow your mind the next, fine-ish pales in comparison.
We got: black edamame with Himalayan salt (apparently black edamame is green), sunomono, eggplant “Nasu” with sweet miso, shishito peppers with sansho miso, black cod with sweet miso, Jidori fried chicken, duck with yuzu pepper and crisy onion, tiger shrimp with butter garlic shisho, zucchini sumiyaki, corn with soy butter, sweet potato chips with kabocha and spinach dip, Mame Aji (crispy fried baby Spanish mackerel), seared tuna with crispy baby spinach in ponzu, tofu with uni, fresh water eel and avocado roll cut, soft shell crab rolls cut, aburi hamachi roll with jalapeno, grilled eggplant and ground chicken in sweet soy sauce (Nasu Soboro) and two desserts.
Not one of these dishes made The Monster need to come back. The Monster could tell you the shrimp were a disappointment or the peppers were nice or the eggplant was tasty. Or The Monster could walk over to Lazy Ox and eat there. That seems like the better option.
Why go? Lazy Ox is full.
Monster rating: 2/5 Monsters
243 South San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012