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Trying to find a Japanese place to eat that is open in those hours between lunch and dinner is a challenge in every city; Japanese restaurants are one of the few who actually close between service here and worldwide. I did a search for nearby places that were open and luckily found Harajuku Taproom nearby. They have not been open long, but from what I’ve tried, and from what seems to be a steady local clientele, they will have an appreciative audience.

The variety of pickles was a good indication of the rest of the menu at this craft sake and beer place where the emphasis is on quality and uniqueness, e.g., one of the pickles was pickled eggplant!

The miso glazed sirloin steak was tender and one bite told you that they used quality meat.

Their impossible gyoza are house made with a ginger sauce, and they were addictive.

I like miso, so the eggplant with miso glaze was the next choice and a great way to eat your vegetables!

A beautiful way to tempt your taste buds is to order the shiitake with soy and the asparagus with lemon.

We also tried the chicken breast with yuzu pepper, but we at it all before I could snap a picture 🙂 The only misstep of the evening was the tempura ice cream which had to be redone and still came out looking like a sad child’s painting with a coating that wasn’t nearly crisp enough.

The service more than made up for the dessert, with one of our servers, Gregory, having lived 6 years in Japan, he presented each dish with proper pronounciation and traditional manners; something appreciated by everyone whether they speak Japanese or not. 

Make a reservation, or go for happy hour before this neighborhood gem becomes so popular that you will have to wait in line to get inside.

I remember when The Wood opened at their busy intersection and I was happy to find on a recent return visit, that they are still thriving. Their blend of American favorites with a Californian sensibility is a tried and true formula. Coupled with fantastic service and a warm inviting fire pit on their large patio, this place is an easy choice if you are in the neighborhood. Since it’s been raining heavily all week, the warm glow of the fire pit and the thought of comfort food drew a friend and me to the sheltered patio lit with heat lamps and the large bar height fire pit. 

The chicken pot pie for $15 looked like a pie a la mode when it came out with a scoop of mashed potatoes. They use free range chicken and make their own crust, so the quality of ingredients was top notch, however I found the filling lacked seasoning.It was a huge portion, so easily enough for two or a big appetite.

The roasted beet salad for $13 with candied walnuts, goat cheese, and a balsamic dressing was absolutely delightful, with contrasting textures, nice flavors, and good balance of ingredients.

The lentil soup ended up being taken to go because it was a meal in and of itself!

As a pure indulgence, we ordered the truffle fries for $8, they weren’t addictive, but they weren’t bad either; the three choices of dipping sauce made us eat more than we intended!

If you stop by on a Tuesday night, they offer half off their bottles of wine, so come and leave in a taxi or driver service if you would like to indulge 🙂

One of the good things about Los Angeles is that there are always good options no matter what time of day or which neighborhood you prefer. Simply driving until you I saw a string of potential eateries on Washington, the original idea was to eat at Hatchet Hall, but it wasn’t open yet, but a few steps away there was a blackboard sign for Detour Bistro advertising happy hour from 3-7pm. It was a good omen to see that there were quite a few customers at 4 pm on a Wednesday. The clientele was a mix of mostly 30 somethings, eating as much as they were drinking, and after perusing the menu and seeing what was arriving at the nearby tables, I wanted to try several bites.

The fish taco can be either seared or fried, and thankfully they use wild yellowtail that was perfectly cooked and nicely complimented by the fresh vegetables on the commercial corn tortilla.

The tempura romanesco was the hit of the evening with a nice crunch, accented with a spread of olive hummus.

The grilled caesar needed more grilling and more anchovies in the dressing, but it had quality parmesan and some nice accents of cherry tomatoes and radishes.

The spicy wings were the nicest surprise of the evening, with enough heat and complexity to entice those who have been bored to tears with the usual treatment of this popular finger food. If you only get one dish here, get this and / or the tempura romanesco and you will be very happy.

For those who wish to drink craft cocktails, they have several originals, as well as the usual full bar and some decent wines, so it is worth making a detour if you are in the area.

A small family run restaurant is always my preferred choice Nanban-kan has been a yakitori (grilled skewers) favorite of mine for years, so I was happy to introduce a local to this hidden treasure that almost literally requires a treasure map to find. Most skewers are in the $4 range and include 2, so you can mix and match several to match your appetite and sense of adventure. With choices ranging from chicken hearts and tongue, to the pork belly wrapped asparagus and seabass, I chose a bit of everything 🙂 My favorites were the chicken hearts and sea bass, with the asparagus coming out third, I found the beef tongue a bit tough and dry, but still decent.

My friend ordered the comforting chicken and rice dish since he was getting over an illness. It came with a colorful array of pickles and miso soup, so a perfect remedy for those with sensitive stomachs or a compromised immune system.

 The stuffed shitake mushrooms were filling but not vegetarian since they were stuffed with ground chicken.

We tried the daily special of yellowtail collar and found it a bit over cooked but very fresh. The owner is the hostess who rules the roost with a very fair system and a warm smile, making sure clients who reserved were seated promptly, but those who arrived late were asked to wait. Walk-ins were offered the front tables with the same impeccable service as the main dining room. I was very happy to to found quality and service still prevail in this small enclave of hospitality and great Japanese grilling.

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