From the driving, to the parking, to the not knowing where to drive or park, dinner in L.A. is harder than it should be. That’s why we created Dinner Plan — your itinerary to a damn good time. This week, we’re off to Little Tokyo for one of the deepest sake menus in town followed by a female-driven dive bar and a brewery that blows its own glass.
Sake Dojo (2 images)
Dinner and Sake: Sake Dojo
Until we visited Sake Dojo, our understanding of sake was limited to hot or cold and sweet or dry. Though not as nuanced as wine (terroir comes from a vine’s roots; rice doesn’t have roots like that), there are subtleties.
Essentially, the level to which the rice is polished determines flavor and body. This is achieved through refined polishing, which takes place in a rotating column and can last as long as three days, and can be the hallmark of a specific region, or prefecture.
For instance, a sake like Kimoto Daiginjo has a 50% polish, which produces a sake that is light and silky. Tokubetsu, on the other hand, has a 23% polish that takes 74 hours, and leads to a meatier, funkier tipple.
Sake Dojo’s menu is seven pages long and includes flights that allow you to sample several prefectures. The key here is to make sure your server or bartender knows what’s up; not all do. Feel them out, and then kindly ask to speak to the sommelier.
For food, this is a rock-and-roll Japanese restaurant, offering sushi, robata and a mean tori karaage (Japanese fried chicken). Other notables were the homemade tofu, which comes out cold and silky with a soft, eggy texture, and an avocado tempura that achieves the same sort of culinary satisfaction that Midwesterners probably get from eating fried butter at the State Fair.
The Mermaid (2 images)
After-Dinner Drinks: The Mermaid
Ready to rummy? You’re off to the Mermaid for some post-prandial cocktails. This femme-directed dive has a touch of tiki and a lot of mojo. It’s located in the Honda Shopping complex next to Sushi Gen. If you’re a fan, you’ll recall the former tenant of this space as the one with the shag walls. Those walls are now stripped down to a teal veneer. Behind the bar, they’ve got a boozy snow cone machine and rummy drinks with lots of sugary juice. If that’s too sweet for you, try the Eat Your Veggies, a dirty gin martini garnished with pickled veggies.
Bookmark It: High Tide
There’s a new brewery opening a few blocks from The Mermaid called High Tide which will have music and also blow their own glass during business hours. We tried to go on our last mission to the neighborhood — it’s not open yet, but should be soon. Keep it in mind if you’re going down toward later this month (Ed. note: Google says it’s already open; Google lies). If it’s closed, head to EightyTwo to play some video games.