Her last review before stepping away on book leave (her reviews will be limited to one per month), Besha Rodell offers her take on Ozu East Kitchen, the newest addition to Atwater Village's blossoming dining scene. The brainchild of first-time restaurateur Paul Yi, the sleek, urban space offers up pan-Asian cuisine that leans towards Japanese and Korean flavors.
The LA Weeky critic is rather effusive about the small dishes that go exceptionally well with beer:
There's a porcine version of a Taiwanese beef roll, the dense, crispy, oily scallion pancake wrapped around juicy braised pork shoulder, proving once again that good barbecue is an international language with nebulous borders. It's kind of stupidly decadent and unbalanced and delicious. "Avocado toast" is actually a smash of guacamole that's had its lime replaced with yuzu, served atop a crisped rice cake and accompanied by something they're calling "smoked kochugang." Japan meets California meets Korea, and they all get along beautifully. [LAW]
Even the ramen is a winner, which B. Rod describes as having "a pared-back simplicity that's immensely satisfying."
The critic concludes with some big words for the neighborhood gem:
If I were a food company looking to take over the world, one of the many in the industry aiming to be the next Chipotle, I'd pay attention to this unassuming spot. It has taken the needs and the tastes of the urban creative class and boiled them down into a formula that makes sense: tasty Asian food, good beer, good wine, stylish but simple atmosphere, service that feels genuinely invested. [LAW]
Ozu East scores two stars.
The Elsewhere: Gastronomy Blog lunches at Mian by Chengdu Taste, Bill Esparza waxes poetic on dishes from the Isthmus region of Oaxaca served at Folklore Istmeño, and kevinEats heads to Yangji Gamjatang.