Thursday, December 9, 2010

Restaurant Review: T.O.T.

I just wanted to give a quick heads-up to all you food fans in L.A.-land to try out a cool new place in Little Tokyo.

While perhaps you can say we were all biased from being exhausted from a solid twelve hours of moving, and as such would give massive praise to any food and any beer regardless of quality, I would argue in this case that the reverse is true. That is, leaving this restaurant, far from being merely full and drunk, our battered bodies and weary minds were all nourished and a bit more at peace. The place in question is known as T.O.T. or more thoroughly, Teishokuya of Tokyo on 2nd in Little Tokyo (downtown Los Angeles).

To start, we ordered three appetizers. With the way that most Japanese appetizers focus on simplicity of ingredients they can often be quite telling of the general skill of the kitchen team. The potato croquette was a stunningly geometrically perfect oval-structure lofted of fried panko and mashed potatoes. The veggie tempura was, in that great, luxurious way that seems to elude all but the most noble of tempura, "dainty." And the gyoza were, in general consensus, some of the best any of us have ever had with thin, perfectly crisp golden skins and wondrously flavorful filling. Based on my magic "Japanese Appetizer Criteria Scale" we were going to be in for a very tasty meal.

As for the main dishes, they have a wide range of dishes including excellent ramen with pleasantly textured noodles, fat & slurp-happy udon covered in a massive treasure trove of goodies, creative but rooted sushi and rice bowls (including some set of salad greens that were both aesthetically pretty and really tasty), a tangy & light sukiyaki bowl, plates fanatically moist and lush cutlets among many other choices. Will any item excepting perhaps the gyoza stick out as the absolute best or most innovative of any place in the city? Nah. Was every item from the kitchen made with that little extra un-namable artistic quality were you can tell the people who work at the restaurant adore food, and more specifically their food? For sure. Could you call that magic ingredient love? Just maybe...

Whatever the case, coupled with a small but decent selection of sake, beer and even wine (note that the sake mostly only comes in half bottles, so that is why it seems expensive) T.O.T. combines a tight & diverse menu that is sure to have an option for everyone with really passionate execution and a wealth of flavors that will settle your soul like a clear autumn evening.

PS: They don't really have desert other than the du rigueur ice cream mochi so wander around Little Tokyo, get a coffee and a pastry somewhere and maybe wander to the Blue Whale afterward to see some jazz!

Teishokuya of Tokyo
345 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles

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