Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten stuck in a rut and going to the same restaurants over and over again. In an attempt to snap out of this mode, I decided to checkout one of the new downtown Japanese restaurants on my to-review list. This one is located on San Pedro near 2nd Street in Little Tokyo on the first floor of an apartment complex and easily missed because it’s not in the main part of Little Tokyo.
But I digress.
The restaurant’s name is “Tora,” which means “tiger” in Japanese, and “noko” means “child of,” or in this case, “baby tiger.” The massive doors are left open to reveal a wide restaurant with art-graffiti on the wall and an inviting looking sushi bar on the far side. In the middle, there is an unendingly long skinny table that can seat a group of 2 to infinity.
To get started, I decided to get my usual Zaru Soba ($7) to get a baseline evaluation of the food here. As you can see below, the soba did come with the traditional soba “condiments,” and was cooked properly and the dipping sauce was good as well. The presentation could have been a little better but I was satisfied with it.
For my main course, I went straight to the Sushi Combo ($25) which had a choice for the roll. I decided to play safe and got the spicy tuna roll, just in case the rest of the sushi wasn’t good. As it turned out, everything was fresh and as you can see below, the presentation was good as well.
Although Toranoko has a very nice sushi bar, I did not sit there on this trip. Perhaps, I will try that next time.
Normally, I don’t get off on tangents away from the food in my reviews but I have to mention something here. While I was eating my sushi, I smelled a strong foul odor, and throught my sushi was not fresh. I put my face right into my food to see which item was bad but did not smell anything bad at all. I decided that it must be coming from the room, which would not be the first time at a restaurant for me.
However, I was soon able to determine that the smell was coming directly from the table behind me. I assumed it was the food that the people were eating but as far as I could tell without staring, they had already finished their food. Then the ladies left the restaurant and the odor went away.
I cannot say with certainty that the horrible odor was coming from the lady behind me, but using circumstantial evidence criteria from my jury duty experiences would lead me to conclude that it was coming from the lady and not the food, or restaurant.
What does this have to do with my review of this restaurant? Nothing really, except that I’m glad that they did not stay making me conclude that the odor was coming from the restaurant and giving a bad review. My take away lesson: Be very careful about determining the source of bad odors at restaurants.
By the way, readers of this blog know that I equate traditional Japanese restaurants with free hot green tea. Well, this place charges $3 for Roasted “Genmai,” but it does come in a very nice pot.
The service here is good but the over-the-top niceness is a little, well, over-the-top. It’s like watching a movie with bad acting. At first, it’s amusing, then it starts to get annoying. Then finally, it becomes creepy. But creepy or not, the bottom line is I got good service.
All in all, I’m glad I tried Toranoko and will be returning to try out some of their other items.
243 South San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Lunch: Mon-Fri – 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri 5pm-11pm, Saturday 5pm-11am, Sunday Closed