Dinner – Izakaya Tora – February 11, 2021 – West Hollywood, CA.

When owners Francis and Ben suggested I come in to do a tasting I was very happy. This is just the best-undiscovered specialized sushi and maki restaurant in West Hollywood, and Los Angeles. What a pleasure to try truly unique and delicious Japanese food at it’s finest, and right in the heart of one of the most fun neighborhoods in West Hollywood.

Here’s what I tried:

Miso Soup, a nice fragrant soup, made with fish stock, with tofu and seaweed, takes the chill off of the evening air.

The chefs did this special sushi mini combo for me:
Blue Fin Tuna Toro, Salmon Belly, Mackerel, and Tamago.
Each piece was surprising, using only the finest fish from many regions, each with unique sauces and toppings. They make their tamago fresh everyday and you can totally taste the difference, what a treat.

Tonight’s Special – Pork Gyoza, pot stickers with truffle oil sauce. These are fried to perfection, with the delicate truffle oil sauce – this is a must have appetizer item. It’s just that good.

Special Maki – Rock Shrimp and Spicy Tuna Roll. The tuna is fresh and a bit spicy, but the star of this show is the tempura fried rock shrimp on top, with a subtle mayonnaise sauce, it just is the best. They have a few wonderful mayonnaise sauces that you can ask for that go great with this dish.

Salmon Danabe, with rice, furikake, kizami nori, sesame oil, shiso, green onions, benishoga, masago, micro greens and ikura. This dish comes in a sizzling hot pot, so the rice is crispy on the bottom. Fresh Salmon with many Japanese fixings make for one elegant dish. It is full of flavor, with each bite my taste buds just exploded with happiness, wow.

Kushiyaki – Skewers – Scallop and Miso Chilean Sea Bass. Both of these were super tender and delightful, nicely cooked, and very light. A great menu item for Keto or protein dieters.

House Sake – served in a large vessel, delicious and warm, a nice accompaniment.

Ben and Francis were co-workers previously at a Silver Lake eatery Osen Izakaye, very popular amongst the hipster Silver Lake crowd. They decided to open their own place in July of 2019, customers simply loved their cuisine, but with Covid closing many Los Angeles restaurants down for a period of last year and this year, they have had their hardships. Their model is fresh fish, which has to be served at their restaurant; it does not translate to Togo or delivery. So for every stay at home order they had to completely shut down. Now newly opened again for 2 weeks, they are slowly getting their return business. Ben’s adorable wife Kate was working hard the night I was there, they are short on staff now since they reopened, but it seemed to me that all the customers were well taken care of. By the time I left they were fully packed.

With food this good you know it’s only a matter of time before there will be lines down the block to get in. For the sushi lover you need to get over there now, and try perhaps the best sushi you have ever had in Los Angeles, and beyond, I am a true believer.

(Real Meaning of Izakaya: An izakaya is a place to go after work is finished to drink and share light snacks between friends or colleagues, similar to a British Pub or Irish pub, Spanish tapas bars, and American saloons and taverns. If we want to look into the origins of this type of establishment, one must look back to the Edo period (1603 C.E. – 1868 C.E.), in which a sake merchant who was serving a tasting of several of his beverages in the corner of his shop decided it would be a nice touch to also serve food. The Japanese word “izakaya”, is actually a combination of “i” (meaning to stay), and “sakaya” (meaning sake shop) – indicating that izakaya originated from sake shops that allowed customers to sit in the premises to drink!)

Izakaya Tora
8908 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *