Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fine Japanese sake lists at Little Tokyo's Toranoko and Lazy Ox

Aburiya Toranoko Little Tokyo has an extensive sake list

I rushed out to Abuirya Toranoko the first weekend it opened in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo because I knew owner Michael Cardenas is a true Japanese sake connoisseur. I was not disappointed in the sake list: more than 34 premium Japanese sakes to choose from as well as shochu and Japanese beers. Behind the bar is beverage director/mixologist Kurtis Wells who actually knows A LOT about sake (refreshing) and was happy to share his enthusiasm.  The ultra-mod izakaya, with gleaming bar, vibrant graphics and a small sushi bar, presents a serious menu of sake from sparkling, to Nama sakes like Rin from Fukushimi to the an ultra premium, crisp Ken daiginjo also from Fukushima ($118 for the bottle).

The sake list is very clear: sakes are divided by their flavor profiles and aspects from aromatic (floral and fruity) to roughly filtered, cloudy nigoris. Sit at the bar and try a few five ounce tastes before delving into the menu.

Chiyomusubi Kitaro Jungin one cup sake from Lazy Ox.
We progressed next door to the Lazy Ox Canteen (also a Michael Cardenas enterprise) and continued on the sake highway. Although their selection is not as diverse as Toronoko's, happy to try Chiyomusubi Kitaro Jungin one cup sake, a super-dry sake that features Kitaro, a famed anime character on the label.

243 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012