Ever since Freda and I started Potatomato back in 2004 we’ve been blogging about eating in Los Angeles for 6 years now. We originally started the blog as a motivation for us to explore this city and go to neighbourhoods we normally wouldn’t venture to (ex: Gardena, Lomita…etc). So it’s hard to believe that it’s only until now that we’re starting to explore east LA. Now with the metro Gold line extension it makes exploring some of the East LA neighbourhoods like Boyle Heights more fun and adventurous.
I like the Gold line a lot since it’s still new and the stations are nicely designed. We got out at the Soto Street station and walked for about a block and reached Otomisan, a Japanese home style restaurant that has been around for 50 years. It’s regarded as a “hidden gem” among Japanese living in Los Angeles and was featured in Japanese magazines and TV shows.
The restaurant is TINY! It only has 3 booths and 5 bar stools. It’s got a dive bar-ish quality to it (or should I say dive-restaurant?). Seems like only 2 persons work there: the husband who’s the chef and the wife who does the serving/order taking. It truly is a “mom and pop” place. It was full when we arrived so we had to wait for awhile. They were overwhelmed with the crowd so it took a long time for the food to be served. The nice lady was very apologetic about it though so I didn’t mind the wait.
Everything in the menu is old school Japanese homey comfort food dishes like udon, soba, rice bowls, simple sushi rolls…etc. I got the Chicken Udon. It’s a simple dish but wow it was incredibly delicious! The udon got good texture, the chicken was good and the broth was wonderful. There’s something about it that just made it different from most of the generic Japanese places that’s abundant in this city. Perhaps it’s the real “homemade” quality to it.
The food was authentic and truly excellent home cooking, way better than most places in Little Tokyo! In fact I couldn’t think of any places in LT that has worthy udon or rice bowls like these. Other than the local Latino customers (Boyle Heights is a Latino neighbourhood), a lot of the customers were Japanese and that says a lot. The couple behind us waited an hour for their table and they didn’t seem to mind at all. It’s not a “pretty” place but I like the homey vibe like I was having lunch at the someone’s home. Next time I’d love to try the rice bowls as they looked really good. I heard that their sukiyaki is excellent too.
2506 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90033