Tokyo Table: The New Kid in Town
There’s a new kid in town on la Cienega’s famous Restaurant Row. He’s parked very near Lawry’s, having taken over the old Tony Roma’s place last December. He calls himself
Tokyo Table and says his older brother’s place on Oahu is doing a landslide business and that a younger brother is being planned, even as we speak. He’s not what you’d call gorgeous, but between those lovely lanterns hanging everywhere, the roomy banquettes, tables and booths, and the general appointments, he has been spruced up to give a very appealing look; sort of simple, casual but definitely elegant. The wait staff comes in all colors and sizes, and they do their work with marvelous zeal and efficiency. And the food….well, the food is something out of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and all points West…and it is terrific. Let’s get to specifics:
We were escorted to our booth by the lovely Tonya. Roomy, ample for six people, we stretched out, totally absorbed in the giant lantern hanging down over our table. The menus come in several varieties: the dinner menu is fifteen pages long; the Seasonal Special menu lists an additional eight items on one side and suggested wines or the Sake Sampler on the reverse; the Sake Lounge menu lists eight sake martinis and seventeen different sake wines available. For those having difficulty in making choices, they have psychological counseling services available in the lounge.
All the dishes are both pictured and described in detail as to their lineage. What they can’t tell you is the thrilling tastes evident in each. Chef Tatsuya Emura has a deft touch in creating dishes that will appeal to both Asian and American tastes. Sushi rolls of all types and descriptions occupy pages one and two; eight salads can be found on page three; eleven appetizers on page four; a few “Pizzas” and “Noodles and Soup” on page five; six Hot Stone Bowls and Pots on page six; Seafood of eight types on page seven; Beef, Pork and Chicken dishes on page eight; and some different, enchanting desserts on page nine. Interesting that the largest part of the menu is directed toward drinks: non-alcoholic and alcoholic varieties that occupy the last five pages.
All Tokyo Table’s food is designed for sharing. All the food is fresh, with generous portions offered at reasonable prices. Some highlights:
A. The Pork and Shrimp Gyoza make an outstanding appetizer. these firm, well-stuffed dumplings come twelve to the serving, along with a chili soy sauce for dipping, and at $8.95 an order, a most auspicious introduction to Tokyo’s cuisine.
B. Do enjoy the Seafood Salad at $8.95. It’s a mound of tuna, salmon, cucumber, sliced onions and green onions, topped with crunchy wonton strips, surrounded by a field of greens in a wasabi ranch dressing. A healthy, delicious dish and so satisfying going down.
C. The Mochi Cheese Gratin are tender but firm mochi rice cakes, baked with soba sauce, reeking of mozzarella cheese topping. These little cakes are quite filling and taste, oh so good. Hot…..be careful!
D. Cool off your palate with an order of lightly pickled cucumber ($3.95). The Japanese cucumber used here has a snap, crackle and pop you will remember. They come topped with bonito flakes and dried baby anchovies. These combinations are somewhat unfamiliar to American palates but can soon become a favorite.
Although we both enjoyed everything we ate from “A” to “D”, our favorites were still to come. For Fran, it was the crispy Flounder ($14.95) in which a whole flounder is “crispified” with small pieces of the meat resting on the fish’s carcass, all on a bed of noodles. It’s served with a tangy Ponzu dipping sauce. Watching my darling’s face light up as she chewed away was a treat.
I found ecstasy with the Ishiyaki Garlic Shrimp ($10.95): a mess of shrimp served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, on a bed of garlic. Two orders of that dish, alone, will be my order next time I’m there….exquisite!
Their most generous portion of Honey Toast ($6.95) served as our dessert., It’s their concoction of thick white toast, cut out and cubed, drizzled with honey and two scoops of vanilla ice cream. It can also come in caramel, cinnamon or chocolate versions. Don’t forget some Plantation Iced Tea as your beverage to help wash all those tempting taste treats down.
And, two hours later, as you get ready to go, you realize you’ve had a most unusual, most spectacular, most enjoyable evening of dining. The new kid has been an absolute pleasure by surprising you with a bevy of tastes you’ve never before experienced.
And, for you who are about to enter Tokyo Table, please make certain to tell ‘em Joseph-San sent you. It may mean an extra shrimp.
Tokyo Table 50 N. La Cienega Blvd. Beverly Hills 90211 Tel. 310-657-9500 Open seven days. Dinner for two, approx. $60 w/o alcohol Both valet and self-parking available.