Japanese Americans began settling in this Westside neighborhood in the early 1900s. Over time the area became informally known as Little Osaka in order to differentiate it from downtown's Little Tokyo, and in March of this year the city of Los Angeles officially recognized the pan-Asian dining destination as "Sawtelle Japantown."
Tsujita: This spin-off of a popular Tokyo-based mini-chain now has three restaurants in Los Angeles, all within the same block. The first, Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles, offers lunchtime ramen -- Hakata-style tonkotsu and also tsukemen -- which broadened people's idea of ramen. At dinnertime, it transforms into a modern izakaya. Across the street, Tsujita Annex has slightly different, ultra-rich ramen. The latest addition to the empire is Sushi Tsujita.
Tsujita LA, 2057 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 231-7373; Tsujita Annex, 2050 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 231-0222; Sushi Tsujita, 2006 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 231-1177
Hide Sushi: Established in 1979, family-owned Hide Sushi offers traditional, no-frills sashimi and nigiri at great prices. They don't do reservations, credit cards, or rainbow rolls, but they do Japanese comfort food really well, which is why this place has become an institution for generations of families.
2040 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 477-7242
Kiriko: Chef-owner Ken Namba began his training in Japan and offers a traditional omakase meal to prove it. He has also become known for an unusual specialty of cherrywood-smoked Copper River salmon wrapped around a wedge of mango.
11301 W Olympic Blvd., Ste 102, (310) 478-7769
Plan Check: Located at the northern end of Sawtelle Boulevard, Plan Check pushes against the neighborhood's border. Here you'll find carefully engineered burgers served with dehydrated house-made ketchup and dashi cheese. Or you could order smoked pastrami and kimchi mustard alongside a shot of Japanese whiskey.
1800 Sawtelle Blvd, (310) 444-1411
Shunji: Considered to be one of the finest sushi dining experiences in Los Angeles, the omakase at Shunji includes pristine raw fish while also paying tribute to seasonal fruits and vegetables--dishes have ranged from soft persimmon in tofu paste to zucchini flower tempura with green tea salt to yuzu ice cream.
12244 Pico Blvd, (310) 826-4737