Los Angeles has an embarrassing wealth of outstanding Japanese eateries, stretching all the way from the Valley to Little Tokyo and Sawtelle Japantown on down to the South Bay. Dispersed throughout those pockets are yakitori specialists, restaurants that have perfected the art of skewering meat and vegetables before kissing them with a touch of charcoal smoke. Here now, the very best of the bunch, presented from west to east.Read More
Meat on a Stick Always Wins at LA’s Best Yakitori Spots
Wonderful things happen with charcoal smoke meets meat
H2O Sushi & Izakaya
The name H20 Sushi & Izakaya carries across county and state borders, as the company has locations in Costa Mesa, Las Vegas, and Northridge. This Valley option is beloved by locals for its fresh seafood selection, but most tables also end up with a tray or two of skewers — especially during the reduced-price happy hour.
As one of Sawtelle’s premier yakitori spots, Nanbankan offers incredible variety in the chicken genre, without leaving red meat and seafood eaters behind. The open kitchen make for fun action shots, but the focus here is really on the skewers.
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Strip mall standout Sakura House offers some of Culver City’s very best kushiyaki, available both a la carte and as well-rounded set menus.
The namesake dish at this Sawtelle staple come in varieties to please all sorts of eaters. Yakitori beginners can start with the popular chicken thigh before graduating to things like gizzards and hearts.
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Sherman Oaks staple Izakaya M offers a wide selection of Japanese staples, including a robust skewer section that offers things like pork belly and chicken gizzard as well as items like duck.
Aburiya Raku is a stone-cold hit, packed nightly with in-the-know West Hollywood locals, a few celebrities, and a slew of chefs. This is the place to go spend some decent money on high-quality yakitori, drinks, and endless sides, with spendy options like foie gras making way for pig ear, chicken thigh, and a cavalcade of vegetables.
With its prime West Third Street location, Robata Jinya is perhaps the most visible yakitori entrant in town. The bustling dinner spot hums with folks stepping in for drinks, skewers, and all manner of Japanese food.
A small yakitori and kushiyaki den in a large Torrance strip mall, this is one of the South Bay’s most legit Japanese skewer specialists. What’s special about Koshiji is that each skewer gets a gentle smoky flavor while focusing on the quality of the meat. The tradeoff is that much of the saucing is up to the diner at the table — a hit of lemon juice, a dip into mustard, or savory house sauce. —Matthew Kang
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Hasu Kitchen of Japan
Torrance’s Hasu Kitchen feels like an upscale kind of yakitori experience, but without the price tag. This South Bay gem pegs most of its solo skewers at $2.50 or less, while offering a tightly-packed but still enjoyable dimly-lit dinner experience.
Another South Bay favorite, Izakaya Hachi offers a wide range of meat and seafood options from its refined digs off Carson Street in Torrance. Semi-private booths make for intimate company, while the restaurant’s collection of fresh oysters, loads of chicken, and even some shabu shabu options means a great meal is always at hand.
Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining
Torihei is a Torrance yakitori staple, long considered one of the best places in Los Angeles to get meats grilled to perfection. Add in cauldrons of bubbling garlic and plenty of alcohol to make it one of the better casual meals anywhere in Los Angeles.
The South Bay is known for its richness in Japanese eateries, not the least of which is Torimatsu. Unlike its neighboring yakitori restaurants, Torimatsu doesn’t offer much outside of the realm of grilled things-on-sticks. But when the charcoal-scented meats taste this good, no one is complaining.
Tsubaki may well be one of the city’s best neighborhood restaurants, period. The Echo Park enclave offers refined robata classics with a heavy influence on skewered meats and smoke, plus a killer sake list and unbeatable hospitality.
Honda Ya Japanese Restaurant
Little Tokyo’s Honda Ya is a standard-bearer for yakitori fans, with its heavy wooden tables, long drinking list, and steady stream of skewers emerging from the tight kitchen in the back of the third-floor mall restaurant.
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The latest Arts District restaurant stunner comes from the popular Zuma team, offering a 360-degree view of grilling meat skewers and other robata classics. Inko Nito is already settling in as an upscale, trendy option for a neighborhood brimming with great meals right now, and the free-flowing drinks and boisterous room certainly help to keep the vibe alive.
RBTA Highland Park
Highland Park hasn’t seen a place like RBTA in a long time. The narrow, colorful restaurant feels at once bright and compact, with locals and tourists tucking in elbow-to-elbow for skewers made fresh behind the glass in the kitchen. If anything, the best seats in the whole place may well be at the compact stools in the back, catching the flaming action in all its glory.