So Vinh and I went to eat at a place called Izayoi the other day, which is located in the heart of Little Tokyo in Downtown LA. I’ve heard a few good things here and there from various people…but for some reason, I had my reservations about the place. First of all, the name is “Iza-yoi” and I thought it was trying to ride on the coattails of the frenzied outbreak of Izakaya-madness that has swept over Los Angeles. I had also passed it on numerous occasions, as it is situated in the same plaza as Starbucks and Office Depot…the very same plaza that has one of the only FREE parking lots in Lil Tokyo. I’ve peered inside and thought, “Eh, ain’t nuthin special.” How very very, regretfully wrong I was!!
Luckily Vinh persuaded me enough to try some of the “best sushi in LA.” Again, hesitation overwhelmed me. How many sushi places are there in LA, and how many of them claim to be “the best sushi in LA”?! Yeah, way too many to fucking count. But surprise, surprise. A very, happy, excited surprise I might add! The benefits of lowered expectations…glorious!
First off, I ordered the Lotus Root Kimpira, which is very vegan friendly. In case ya haven’t heard, the lotus root is a very delicious, versatile, and very nutritious Asian vegetable. It can be pan sauteed, fried, deep fried [tempura] or basically just serve as a hearty snack. You can pretty much find it at any Asian supermarket. It’s kind of like daikon [radish] except it has a bunch of holes in it. Anyway, at Iza-yoi, they served it cool in a glazed soy/teriyaki-type sauce…both refreshing and yummy! And keeping with Japanese tradition/style, the portions are on the smaller side…just a little side note in case you come with a bunch of people and/or you’re feeling ravenous.
So that was that, but let me just tell you how effin’ amazed I was that they actually had UMEBOSHI sushi!!! Now for all ya’ll who not knowin…Umeboshi is a traditional pickled plum that is typically placed in the center of rice balls. They are red in color and are known for their strong, almost sour, flavor. It’s soooo good. Mos def an acquired taste though. But once you break on through, you’re a fan forever. Okay but back to the crazy fact that this joint actually had this type of sushi as an option!! I’ve really never, ever ever seen that before. And it’s like, DUH…why haven’t places done this??! Umeboshi is practically a staple to Japanese food. They make plum wines with real umeboshis in the bottles for crissakes.
What was great was the fact that the umeboshi was not dry or anything. It was fresh, glazed and so damn mouthwatering. If you can’t tell, it was the highlight of my night/week. If only to try this sushi [if you like umeboshi], please try and make a trip down there. And as you probably know, vegetable sushis are very vegetarian and vegan friendly. It’s just rice, veggies and soy sauce! Oh, and as you can see, I also ordered the Avocado sushi. DROOL. Seriously, if you’re in the mood for some good vegetable sushi lovin’, git git git down there. They also have a bunch of different vegetable, vegan-friendly sushis. Cross my heart, this was really one of the “best” sushi places in LAlaland. This is coming from a sushi veteran. So go do it now! Here’s a close up mug shot:
In addition, Iza-yoi has a plethora of other vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes that they serve. They have a ton of appetizers, much like the aforementioned lotus root, which include dishes such as: Edamame [typical], Spicy Konnyaku [yam cake], Hijiki seaweed [one of my favorites!], Boiled Spinach with ground sesame, and a Cucumber vinegar salad with seaweed. They also have a bunch of salads, a yummy grilled eggplant with miso, and a delicious plate of assorted vegetable tempura.
P.S. this place is also good for their non-vegetarian and vegan food too!!
Izayoi is located at:
132 S. Central Ave.