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R23 Restaurant & Gallery? Review

Everybody is talking about R23 so I decided to check it out. It’s about 3 blocks East of Little Tokyo and you would never find it by accident in a million years. “Hidden” would be putting it mildly.  Not only is it in a semi-industrial part of the area, it’s in a building with other regular businesses and isn’t even in the front of the building.  I felt like I was going to an underground rave to get some “E”.

You’d think that in this part of town, parking would be ginormous.  Instead, it’s a tiny strip of parking and about 4 spaces of street parking.  But they do have valet parking for $3.

Enter straight into the main part of the restaurant. When they say that it’s a gallery, they mean they have some big paintings on the walls… and it does kind of looks like a loft/gallery.  My impression was that although it was small, it had a clean look to it, except for the weird artsy cardboard chairs.  It’s not any less comfortable than wooden or metal chairs in many restaurants. I just didn’t like the look of them. But that’s me. I’m no art connoisseur.

From what I’ve heard, I guess celebrities eat in another dining area in the back but I didn’t get to see that. There are only 8 seats at the sushi bar so if you don’t get there early, forget about sitting there. Okay, that’s enough about the place.  Let’s get to the food.

Rib-Eye steak with ponzu dipping sauce - $20

Rib-Eye steak with ponzu dipping sauce – $20

The lobster tempura is supposed to be the dish to check-out here but I’m not big on lobster, so I got the Rib-eye instead.  The steak was cooked to perfection and I love the ponzu sauce. By the way, there are no prices listed on the non-sushi menu.  That’s how you know you’re in a fancy restaurant.

Sushi (Tako, Hamachi, Albacore, Sake) - $20

Sushi (Tako, Hamachi, Albacore, Sake) – $20

As you can see, the sushi is somewhat oversized. In fact, they put 2 smaller slices together on the Tako to create the illusion of a single longer piece.  It was sliced very thin, and made it easy to chew.  This is similar to the way some places serve Tako-Su.  The miso soup ($3) was a tiny bit too sweet for my taste because I like it more traditionally salty.  And rice was $2. Yes, expect to pay for everything. I had a little too much food for desert so that’ll have to wait for my next trip.

After your meal, your check comes in a wooden box with their logo, that looks like something out of “World of Warcraft” or Nintendo’s Zelda.  I thought I’d get a power-up when I opened it, but alas, just a hand written check.  No computers here.

All in all, although there are tons of great items on the menu, in my mind, the sushi is the main attraction here. I’ve heard people complain about the pricing here but I guess I must be used to crazy pricing and found the prices here reasonable for an upscale restaurant with good service.

923 E. 2nd. Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-7178
Lunch: Mon-Fri  11:30am-2pm
Dunner: Mon-Sat  5:30pm-10pm
Closed Sunday