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Aburiya Toranoko Brings Hip Japanese Cuisine to Little Tokyo

By Lauren Mattia
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 03:23PM
Mikey Wally

The interior of Aburiya Toranoko is reflected in a mirror hanging over the space's ample bar.

Aburiya Toranoko opens Wednesday, offering a cool, L.A. inspired twist on Japanese fare right next to Little Tokyo favorite The Lazy Ox Canteen.

Like its next door neighbor, which opened in 2009's year of the ox, Toronoko, which means "child of the tiger" in Japanese, is a reference to the Chinese calendar. But Toronoko just made the deadline--the year of the tiger ends on February 2nd.

Although the inspiration behind naming the two restaurants is similar, the two spots differ from decor to dining. The motivation behind the decor was to remain "organically specific to L.A." said Aburiya Toranoko's Eugene Inose.

To do so, Lazy Ox co-owner Michael Cardenas recruited L.A. artists for the large-scale pieces throughout the restaurant. Local tattoo artist Jiro created the mural behind the sushi bar and graffiti artist Prime painted the large brick wall, its bright colors a contrast to the restaurant's dark wood tables and chairs.

The menu, created by Executive Chef Hisa Kawabe (formerly from Nobu Malibu) is "an amagalmation of L.A. meets New York meets Tokyo." The adventurous yet authentic japanese food is an homage to everything "super fresh and homemade," said Inose.

Near the restaurant's entrance is a large communal table, "where big groups can come in and share, talk," Inose said. "We hope it will be a place where the people next to you will ask 'what are you having? It looks good!'"

The restaurant references cuisine from major metropolitan cities in both the U.S. and Japan, but Inose stressed Toronoko's "farm to table-type food."

Aburiya Toranoko / 243 S. San Pedro / 213-621-9500

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