Sunday, August 3, 2008

Further Adventures in Little Tokyo: Izakaya Haru Ulala

This wee izakaya stands at the corner of 2nd and Central, across the street from Honda Plaza. All good things live at this intersection, in my opinion. Sushi Gen, Bar C, American Apparel, Ka Gai Ya and even a Subway franchise. One block to the west stands a Pink Berry and the lovely little clothing and trend store Pop Killer. I noticed last night that another such store has opened. I am going to have to explore that one next time we are in the hood.

Haru Ulala aren't fancy. The menu is written in crayon with delightful little drawings and, by the end of the evening, lots of greasy happy fingerprints.

The specials tend to run out of by the end of the night, but there are so many great small dishes on the menu that there is more than enough to keep a smile on everyone's face. And there is always more than enough food at the table. How do we consistently manage to over order? Our over ordering sent J home in a food coma, and he stopped eating after only the second course. NOOB!

They offer small bottles of Sayuri unfiltered sake. My holy grail sake.

With the first round of food came sushi and some vegetables. The sushi is pretty standard stuff. I didn't actually eat any of the maki last night. I was waiting for the small plates of meats and whatnot. But the boys dug in like malnourished vultures.

Rounds of fried shishito peppers with fish flakes arrived. These are small and spicy.

We noshed on roasted eggplant in a miso glaze. I really love the blackened bits around the edges.

Out strolls the short rib with daikon in broth. My fave izikaya dish. I love the way Haru Ulala makes this, specifically the way they slice the daikon so everyone can have a hearty broth soaked slice instead of ripping one large chunk to shreds.

The following mystery dish is not on the menu. I am not sure what all is in there, but I can give you a few ingredients. There is egg, there are shrimps. Some onion. And some other things too, all drizzled with a slightly bitter glaze resembling teriyaki sauce. The top is then liberally sprinkled with fish flakes so light they sway in the convection currents caused by the heat around the dish. This swaying of fish flakes deeply disturbed J. He left soon afterward. Done in by fish flakes. They sadly waved goodbye.

I can never, ever resist soft shell crab. We shared a couple plates. These were huge specimens. Honestly, they were battered a little too heavily and fried a little too long. By this time I might have been a little tipsy. I ate some anyway.

The aftermath.

We ended up at Haru Ulala as an alternative to the mind numbing dance music at Home. Mind, there was definitely some Japanese club-esque electonica happening in the background. However, it was a) background and b) Japanese and added to the experience rather than preventing it.


Allison said...

okonomiyaki! i had it the last time i went to haru ulala. i actually wasn't too fond of the sweet sauce. but haru ulala is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in LA!

p.s. too bad about the HOME experience, i was hoping for a nice new restaurant in the hood with a patio.

Marie said...

I have been meaning to go to Haru Ulala for ages. Thanks for reminding me! You guys didn't mess around with ordering enough food! :)