Author Archives: rinayano

Lucky Rice Event July 30th

July 28, 2015


Lucky Rice Event on Thursday July 30th:

Lucky Rice will be returning to the City of Angels with a national Feast event and will continue to feature the best up-and-coming chefs in the Los Angeles area. Popular Pop-Ups will be joined by brick-and-mortar mainstays under one roof, with plenty of Asian-influenced cocktails from the city’s top mixologists to help wash down the grub.

Sawtelle Japantown’s Seoul Sausage Company will be participating in the event.

Create Nightclub
6021 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

General Admission: 8 – 10pm (7pm for VIP)


VIP: $150
GA: $88

For more information and a full menu go to:



Tokyo Japanese Outlet / 東京アウトレット

July 1, 2015

Make Up and False Lashes

Make Up and False Lashes

The NY Times has called Sawtelle the “Boulevard of the Rising Sun”  because of the mix of Japanese restaurants, and shops.  But few of the Sawtelle businesses can match the Tokyo Japanese Outlet for bringing you a piece of Japan right in West Los Angeles.  Located in the
Sawtelle Center, the Tokyo Japanese Outlet might be small, but it packs a punch with a plethora of over 4000 Japanese items.  Items range from anime toys, beauty products, candy, cell phone accessories, stuffed animals, unique kitchenware, Japanese gifts and souvenirs, apparel, and much more.   Once inside, it’s really easy to admire all of the merchandise, and quite frankly, shopping at the Tokyo Japanese Outlet is simply irresistible.

Cute Socks

Cute Socks

Some of the coolest items

A few of our favorite items were the Japanese beauty products.  We thought it was some of the best make-up around.  We loved the false eye lashes and Love Drops Mascara.  Also the Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner was fabulous.  Other unique finds were all of the Hello Kitty merchandise, Japanese candy and gum, and the bento boxes.

Hello Kitty Goods

Hello Kitty Goods

The items are tad more expensive than the other tchotchke store Daiso across the street, but still reasonably priced.  If you’re looking for cute and unique gifts for someone or for yourself, Tokyo Japanese Outlet has got you covered.  I just scored some adorable mini fruit shaped erasers for my desk at work.

In future blog posts, we will feature more cool finds from Tokyo Japanese Outlet.


ニューヨークタイムス紙がソーテル道りに沢山のレストランや店が混ざり合いどんどん店数も増えつずけ活気が出ている様子を日が昇る(Rising Sun)様な勢いだと表現しました。但しTokyoOutletのように日本の一部をウエストLAへもってきた 感じがするお店は他にありません。ソーテルセンターにあるこの店は小さいが4000以上の活気ある品物が置かれています。

品物は玩具、美容用品、お菓子類、携帯用カバー、動物のぬいぐるみ、ユニークな台所用品、日本的なギフトやおみやげ 衣類等々他にも沢山の品があります。入店すると嬉しい気持ちになり何か買いたくくなります。


一押しは美容用品。付けまつげ、Love Drop マスカラ, Dolly Winkリキィドアイライナーで 他に類をみない良い製品だと思います。


お友達に可愛いギフトをお探しならTokyo Outlet tはぴったりなお店です。私もフルーツの形をした可愛い消しゴムを仕事の机用に買ってしまいました。

Tokyo Japanese Outlet is located at:

2109 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

Ramen with Skid Row’s Scotti Hill / スキッドローの スコットィ ヒル氏

June 25, 2015

Skid Row Guitarist Scotti Hill

Skid Row Guitarist Scotti Hill

Outside of Tatsu Ramen

Outside of Tatsu Ramen

Ramen with Scotti Hill

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the things that I like most about starting this blog is having a Twitter account for Sawtelle Japantown. I’ve met the most interesting people on Twitter who are fans of the Sawtelle Japantown area. One such Twitter follower is guitarist Scotti Hill from the heavy metal band Skid Row, a band whose songs bring back memories from my high school days (ie belting out “I Remember You” in the car with friends).

A few weeks ago, I had direct messaged Scotti to thank him for the Twitter follow and mentioned that I was a fan of Skid Row. After some back and forth exchanges, it came to light that our children currently attend the same preschool. What are the chances? And how random? In any case, I talked to Scotti the other day over a bowl of Tatsu ramen. . .

Aside from a short hiatus in 1996 when grunge music was in and heavy metal music was out. Scotti has played with Skid Row for the last 29 years. Scotti is one of 3 original members of Skid Row and they continue to tour all over the world as either a featured act or with a group of other metal bands. I told Scotti that he is lucky to be able to pursue his passion for music as a job, and he agreed, but he told me that it is a difficult lifestyle for a father of a young son to be
away touring for weeks at a time.

Scotti loves Japan and the Japanese culture. In fact, during longer breaks on tour, he and his family live in Japan for 1 to 2 months out of the year He likes being a regular “gaijin” in Japan and he can be seen hanging out in front of the local convenience store drinking a beer. Being an active member of Skid Row requires him to live in the United States, however, when he retires from Skid Row down the line, Scotti would like to live permanently in Japan.

There is a lot of travel and down time being on tour and Scotti brushes up on his Japanese hiragana and katakana via iPhone apps. He sometimes tweets in Japanese.

Scotti and his family frequent many places in Sawtelle Japantown. including Manpuku, Seoul Sausage and Bar Hayama to name a few. It was Scotti’s first time trying Tatsu and he gave Tatsu’s ramen a thumbs up. If you are wondering what Scotti ordered at Tatsu, he had the bold ramen. As a side note, Scotti has an interesting way of eating ramen where he puts the ramen noodles in the spoon and wraps the noodles on his chopsticks – like spaghetti style.

Bold Ramen

Bold Ramen (photo by Malcolm Johnson)

Scotti Hill Eating Ramen Spaghetti Style

Scotti Hill Eating Ramen Spaghetti Style

I enjoyed my lunch conversation with Scotti and look forward to bumping into him in Sawtelle Japantown or at my child’s preschool.

Skid Row is currently touring and their tour schedule can be found on their website at,


前にも書いがソーテルジャパンタウンのブログを初めて一番好きな ことはソーテルジャパンタウン周辺のフアンの興味深い人々に 会うことだ。ヘビーメタルバンドスキッドローのギターリスト スコットィヒル氏もその一人だ。彼らのヒット曲(車で友達と聞いた ”I Remember You”)は高校時代を思い出させる。

数週間前スコッティにツイッターフォローのお礼をしスキッドローの ファンである事を伝えた折りに会話の中から子供たちが同じ プリスクールに行っている事が判明した。そんなわけで彼とたつラーメンをいただきながらお話を聞いた。

1996年グランジミュージックがはやった時の一時期を除いてスキッドローとして29年間演奏をつずけている。彼は3人のスキッドローオリジナルメンバーの一人で 今も世界中で演奏活動を単独又は他のグループと共に行っている。

彼は自分のパッシオンを仕事に出来ることは幸せに思っている 一方小さな子を持つ親としては数週間一度に家を開ける ライフスタイルは難しい面もあるそうだ。

氏は日本と日本文化が大好きで長く休みが取れる時には家族と共に1,2か月日本に滞在する。彼は不通の”外人“に日本でなっている事が好きでコンビニ店前でビールを飲む姿も見られるそうだ。スキッドローのメンバーとしてはアメリカに 住まなくてはならないが 将来リタイア後は日本に永住したい希望がある。。







Plan Check Kitchen + Bar / プランチェック

June 21, 2015

By  Jay Terauchi

Living in Los Angeles, there are a lot of good burger places, such as Umami Burger, Apple Pan, Father’s Office, In n Out, etc.

One of my favorites places for a burger is Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, headed by chef Ernesto Uchimura.

One of my Favorites PCB (Plan Check Burger) (photo by Jay Terauchi)

One of my Favorites PCB (Plan Check Burger) (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Chef Ernesto is the former corporate executive chef at Umami Burger.

Just one of the genius things of this burger is Chef Uchimura’s creation of the ketchup leather. It’s housemade ketchup which has been dehydrated (similar to a fruit roll-up). It’s placed at the bottom of the burger, preventing the burger juices from getting the bottom bun soggy AND you
still get the ketchup flavor, brilliant!

It was a beautiful Los Angeles day, so sitting out on the patio was an easy decision.

It was a beautiful Los Angeles day, so sitting out on the patio was an easy decision (photo by Jay Terauchi)

See What Jay Eats…

Housemade Yuzu Soda (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Housemade Yuzu Soda (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Housemade Yuzu Soda

It couldn’t get any better…

Fries (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Fries (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Fries cooked in beef tallow with smoked salt and served with fresh housemade ketchup

OK, it could get better…

What’s a burger without fries, right?

Smoked Fried Chicken

Smoked Fried Chicken (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Smoked Fried Chicken

Jidori chicken, smoked milk gravy, yam preserves, and spicy pickled okra (served under the 3 pieces of chicken).

The chicken was cooked perfectly and with a nice surprise of the yam preserves and the okra.

For those who want more than a burger,

I suggest checking the daily special board too.

Cruller Donuts

Cruller Donuts (photo by Jay Terauchi)

Cruller Donuts (made to order) served with cream and fruit

Can’t leave without having dessert…

Plan Check Kitchen is not just burgers, it’s has a contemporary menu in a casual atmosphere right on Sawtelle Ave.

Order a drink (full bar) and look over the menu, there are a lot of options and do check the “specials” board.

I suggest ordering the PCB (Plan Check Burger) and if you like crullers, save room for dessert.

(photo by Jay Terauchi)

(photo by Jay Terauchi)


ロスアンジェルスには うまみバーガー、アップルパン、ファーザーズオフィス など美味しいハンバーグ店が沢山ある。

私の好きなバーガー店は シェフアーネストうえむら率いるプランチェックキッ チンプラスバーだ。うえむらシェフは前うまみバーガーの重役シェフだった。

うえむらシェフは豊かな才能でケチャップロールを作り上げた。ホームメイド ケチャップを乾燥させロールにしたものだ。(フルーツロールアップのように)これがバンズの上に置かれているのでパンが濡れてしまわず ケチャップ味も楽しめる。

ヤムとオクラ添えチキンは完壁に焼けあがっている。バーガー 以外をお望みの方には日替わりの書かれているを黒板をチェックする事おすすめ。デザートもお忘れなく。



私のお勧めはPCB(プランチェックバーガー)とお腹にに余裕があれば クルーラー。

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar is located at:

1800 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025

(310) 444-1411

Yasuko Nail Art / やすこ ネールアート

June 17, 2015

Yasuko Nail Art (photo by Yasuko Yoshinari)

Yasuko Nail Art (photo by Yasuko Yoshinari)

Nail Artist Yasuko Yoshinari

Nail Artist Yasuko Yoshinari (photo by

When you think of Japanese innovation, the last thing that would come to mind is nail art.  But Japanese nail art is at a whole new level compared to a typical manicure — it is insanely detailed. Even though nail art originates in the US, several nail art techniques come from Japan and there are specific instructional classes dedicated to nail art in Japanese cosmetology school. Additionally, there are magazines dedicated to showcasing nail art with hundred of featured designs and techniques.

Japanese Magazine Dedicated to Nail Art

Japanese Magazine Dedicated to Nail Art (photo by

I’ve seen a few of my Japanese friends in Los Angeles have these fancy “bedazzled” manicured nails. They all referred me to Yasuko Yoshinari who is a nail artist and works out of the Taka Hair Salon in Sawtelle Japantown. Yasuko is a veteran manicurist who has been honing the nail
art craft for the past 17 years. Yasuko is formally trained in Japan and worked as a nail artist in Japan for several years prior to setting up shop in Los Angeles.


Crystals (photo by

Yasuko Working on a Client's Nails

Yasuko Working on a Client’s Nails (photo by

For this post, I watched my friend Shinobu get her nail art manicure from Yasuko. She cleaned and filed Shinobu’s nails, started applying a base coat and then various gel colors using different sized brushes. The level of detail and neatness was quite astonishing.  Yasuko casually chatted with me Shinobu while she worked on Shinobu’s nails.  After the nail colors were applied, she pulled out cases of crystals which she applied one by one to the nails using a brush.  These crystals are very small and Yasuko lined each crystal using a brush with ease.  This entire manicure took 1 hour but Yasuko tells me that more complicated ones can take a bit longer.

As you can see from the photos, Yasuko’s nail art is truly a work of art.    It’s too bad that these beautiful manicures generally last for about 3 weeks.  However, I am sure Yasuko’s clients enjoy going back to Yasuko to see what new designs she will create for them.

This Nail Art Costs $80

This Nail Art Design Costs $80 (photo by Yasuko Yoshinari)

Nail art manicure prices range depending on the level of detail and crystals used.  Shinobu’s manicure pictured here was $80.

For those interested in trying a Japanese nail art manicure by Yasuko, she has agreed to give a 20% discount to first time customers.  In order to get the discount, mention!

To see more of Yasuko’s amazing nail art creations, visit her Facebook page.

やすこ ネールアート


ロスアンジェルスの数人の友人がピカピカのネイルマニュキワをしているのを見たことが有る。皆 ソーテルジャパンタウンに在るタカサロンのよしなりやすこさんに依るものだった。やすこさんは17年間ネールアートをやっているベテランだ。彼女は日本でトレーニングを受けてロスアンジェルスに来る前数年間は日本で働いた。






(photo by Yasuko Yoshinari)

photo by Yasuko Yoshinari

Yasuko works Thursday through Saturday at Taka Hair Salon in Sawtelle Japantown

Taka Hair Salon

2010 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025


Granada Market / グラナダマーケット

June 14, 2015

Granada Market Exterior

Granada Market Exterior (photo by

Granada Market is a family-owned compact grocery store specializing in sashimi-grade fish, kobe beef & other Japanese specialties.   While this Mom & Pop market might lack in space, it does not lack in high quality and fresh Japanese foods.

Meiji Tofu

Meiji Tofu (photo by

Fresh sashimi grade fish

Fresh Fish (photo by

A favorite item from the market is Meiji tofu, which can be difficult to find in other Japanese food markets.  It’s known for its extremely soft and silky texture.  Other popular items are the fresh fish selection, Japanese fruits, vegetables and sashimi.  Not to mention, all of the wonderful special items like Japanese dolls that are mixed together with grocery items.
Japanese Dolls with Groceries

Japanese Dolls with Groceries (photo by

Check out their pre-made food which is good for lunch or even an afternoon snack.  Unfortunately, the Mom & Pop shops are disappearing in Sawtelle Japantown so be sure to stop by to support these special neighborhood stores.

Granada Market Aisle

Granada Market Aisle (photo by


グラナダマーケットは刺身用魚 神戸ビーフや他のスペシャルな日本食品を売る家族経営の小さなマーケットだ。この店はスペースに欠けているかも知れなが高品質と新鮮さに関しては全く欠けていない。



Granada Market is located at:

1820 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025


Giant Robot 2 GR 2 / ジャイアントロボット 2 GR2

June 7, 2015

Eric Nakamura

Eric Nakamura

By Malcolm Johnson*

One of the things that makes successful ventures successful is the usually the singular vision of one person.  Y’see, the trick is to make something, very narrowly, very specifically you, and then hope others will see the uniqueness of what you’ve done, and hop on board.

Giant Robot owner, Eric Nakamura likes…well, Giant Robots.  He has ever since he was a kid.  He’s also a Sawtelle Japantown guy, having grown up in the area back before it was known as Little Osaka (read Eric’s post on his thoughts to the changes occurring in Sawtelle Japantown).

So what do you do if you if you’re from Sawtelle Japantown and have a hankering for the good stuff in Japanese Pop Culture?  Well, most people would open a Comic Book store and be done with it.  But calling the Giant Robot Store a “comic book store” is seeing things through too narrow a lens.  Sure, Giant Robot is a temple of Japanese Pop Culture and Japanese-American tributes to said Japanese Pop Culture, but it’s more than that.

Sure you can get your books, posters, and T-Shirts over at Giant Robot, but the store has also served as a valuable launching platform for new and emerging brands, like the Ugly Doll. That helped launch UglyCon.  The Giant Robot Store also helped launch the Giant Robot Magazine.

Giant Robot Exterior

Giant Robot Exterior

IMG_7402-Edit (640x427)

All this from the mind of one, open-minded, welcoming and in-the-know entrepreneur.

So what do you do now?

Well, maybe you open a Gallery Space down the block, featuring a rotating Gallery collections of up and coming, cutting edge artists.

That’s what Eric Nakamura did, and he called it GR2.

Again, like Giant Robot the original, GR2 is much more than just a temple of Japanese Pop Culture, it’s an Art Gallery, featuring up and coming artists on a regular basis.  Every once in a while, you may find some known Artists (like DC Comic’s Jim Lee) coming through for a signing or a talk, but Eric has devoted his time and energy to also launching brands through the Giant Robot Stores.  Things like the Ugly Doll, which found their start in the original Giant Robot Store, and have grown to having their own Conventions.

The Artists you may not have heard of, but they’re always worth a look.  Beside, you’ll be able to say you saw ‘em back in the day, before the got big.

GR2 has poetry readings, and most recently an Experimental Game Demonstration featuring the students at USC (University of Southern California).

GR2 set up a bunch of stations just outside the store, most featuring TVs where the Student Programmers could demonstrate their wares.  And it wasn’t just Video Games, there were a few Board or non-electronic games at work also.  Students would man a station for forty minutes, then rotate to a new location to keep things fresh.

They even projected some games on the side of the store, which was also a lot of fun, and brought a great energy to the affair.

There will be more evenings like this.  They are events that Eric is quite proud of, and an idea that Giant Robot wants to build upon.  Events like these help build the community, and that’s nothing but a good thing.  Sawtelle Japantown is an old community.  Maybe one that most locals don’t know about, but it’s been around since the 1920s. It’s got a long history and a proud one.  Still, the official name of the area (as of publication) is only a few months old, and the community is as a whole is starting to see influx of Hipsters.

Nothing wrong with Hipsters, and if they’re here to help keep what Sawtelle Japantown is and has always been, great.  But that’s not been the history of communities like this.  Even Little Tokyo, is finding itself more and more gentrified as time goes on, as more and more of the residents move on to places like Torrance.  Soon, we could find the unique little nugget that is Sawtelle Japantown in the same condition.

But not if the residents have anything to say about it.  Not if people like Eric Nakamura and the Giant Robot stores have anything do with it.   This is an old and proud community.  Long may she reign.

GR2 is as much a labor of love for Eric Nakamura as much as anything else.  He’s totally cool with people just dropping by to see what’s on display, and there’s no pressure to buy anything at the store (even though there are prints available that are ridiculously cheap all things considered.)

If you want to take Photographs of what you see, that’s mostly cool also, but I’d check in with the GR2 Staff to make sure it’s okay.  I can see these varying from artist to artist.

* Contributing writer Malcolm Johnson is the publisher of the food blog Is It Any Good


成功しているビジネスは一人のビジョンから成り立っている事が 多い。その秘密は自分らしさを徹底追求してる事で他の人々がそれに気が付いて 共感することだ。

ジャイアントロボット2 のオーナーは 子供のころからジャイアントロボッㇳが 大好きだった。彼はソーテルジャパンタウンがリトル大阪と言われる前から 住民だった。日本のポップカルチャーが好きな場合大抵ならコミックストアーを作るだけだがそれは視野が狭すぎる。ジャイアントロボッㇳは日本のポップカルチャーの殿堂であり日系人のそれに対するㇳリビューㇳ以上のものがある。本、ポスター、T-シャツを売るが新ブランドアグリードールやアグリーコム誕生のきっかけを作った、ジャイアントロボッㇳマガジンも作った。これら全ては心広く全てを歓迎する企業家が築いた。その後は近くに新人向けギャラリー設立 ジャイアントロボッㇳ2と命名。ここはポップカルチャーの殿堂を超え新人アーテストを毎月展示するギャラリーだ。

たまに有名なアーテストDCコミックのJim Lee 等がきてサイン会をしたりレクチャーしたりするがエリックは店中にブランドを作ることにも力をいれている。アグリードールなどは愛好者の話題にもなっている。無名のアーテストでものちに有名に成る可能性がある。ジャイアントロボッㇳ2では詩の朗読会やUSCの学生をフィーチャーした実験ゲームを行った。外に沢山のステーションを作り学生のプログラマーがーデモを行った。





Monday-Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Thursday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Friday-Saturday: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

GR2 is located at:

2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025


Gourmet Bites: Spring Rolls / チキン春巻

June 3, 2015

Chicken Spring Rolls with Dressing and Sriracha

Chicken Spring Rolls with Dressing and Sriracha

Front counter at Gourmet Bites

Front counter at Gourmet Bites

There is a hidden lunch spot called Gourmet Bites near my work where I eat their chicken spring rolls at least twice a week.    Although not technically within the parameters of Sawtelle Japantown, it’s pretty close.   Gourmet Bites is located on the ground floor of the City National Bank building on Olympic between Butler and Colby.  The spring rolls are not on Gourmet Bites’ regular menu but is a permanent special item and available Monday through Friday.   These spring rolls are famous at my work place to the point where  I have heard at least three separate elevator conversations about the spring rolls at Gourmet Bites being “so good”.

Chicken Spring Rolls

Gourmet Bites’ Chicken Spring Rolls

Making the Spring Rolls

Making the Spring Rolls

These spring rolls are loaded with vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, alfalfa  sprouts and avocado and they are wrapped in a Vietnamese rice paper wrap which has a chewy consistency.   The grilled chicken is perfectly seasoned and goes well wrapped with the vegetables.  Gourmet Bites adds  peanut sauce and sriraccha to the side to dip the spring rolls, but you can also opt for the Chinese chicken salad dressing as the dipping sauce which also goes well with the spring rolls.

The spring roll order comes with 4 large pieces.  I usually eat 2 of the pieces during lunch time and save the other 2 pieces for a 3 o’clock snack.  It also comes with fruit and a drink.

Gourmet Bites Sign

Gourmet Bites Sign

I usually take the spring rolls back to my desk at work, but there is a nice outdoor courtyard if you wanted to eat there.


私のオフィスの近くに週に2回はチキン春巻きを食べに行くグルメバイツ という隠れたランチスポットがある。ソーテルジャパンタウン内ではないが すごく近い。グルメバイツはオリンピック道りのバトラーとコルビーの間にある ナショナルバンクビル1階にある。春巻きは通常メニューにはないがスペシャル として月曜日から金曜日までいつもある。この春巻きは会社でも有名で エレベーターの中でも春巻きが美味しいという話を何度か耳にした位だ。

中身はレタス、トマト,ニンジン、アルファルファ、アヴォカド等野菜いっぱいで ベトナムの噛みごたえのあるライスペーパーで包まれている。チキンの味付けも 美味しくて野菜などとよく合う。春巻を浸すピーナッツソース,香菜、が そえられている。チャイニーズチキンサラダ用のソースも合う。


私は持ち帰りオフィスで食べるが素敵な外のコートヤードでも 食べられる。

Courtyard Seating

Courtyard Seating

Exterior of City National Bank Building

Exterior of City National Bank Building

Open Monday Through Friday

8am to 3pm

Gourmet Bites is located at:

11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064