Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mini Foodventure #100: The Shojin (Little Tokyo)

I'm surprised that I've yet to blog about The Shojin considering how regularly I come here (at least once a month,) but the gist of it is that it's a wholesome, healthful fare that's reasonably priced and delightfully delicious too.

Considering that Shojin offers traditional and modern organic-vegan Japanese dishes, I find it funny that it's situated a few doors from
the meat-fest that is Honda-Ya on the third floor of the mostly-vacant Little Tokyo Shopping Center. While I do love my meats, dairy and eggs, there are times when I feel like a lighter, plant-based meal ~ and this place fills that niche nicely (alongside my other mostly-vegan favorites like M Cafe de Chaya and Real Food Daily.)
Seitan Cutlet
With a wide range of items from traditional soba noodles, vegetarian sushi and japanese-style curry and pasta dishes as well as rotating seasonal specials, there's always something new for me to discover when I come back. And plenty of traditional vegan-friendly proteins such as seitan, tempeh, tofu and okara (no, not an Engrish way of saying okra) are incorporated in the dishes, making them substantial but without the usual heavy fattiness of actual meats. And your body will thank you too that these delicious non-meats are high in fiber and other nutrients too.
Bento Box
One of my favorites here is their lunch bento box, which lets you try a lot without spending that much. For $9.95 (plus tax + tip), you can choose two lunch-sized entrees, which gets served up with soup, salad, brown rice and a seasonal vegetable dish. For my most recent trip this past weekend, I chose their crispy seitan cutlet with miso demi-glace and mushroom-avocado sushi.

Both were excellent, if I had to use a meat comparison, the seitan reminded me of a lighter version of chicken-fried steak, with a wonderful non-greasy crisp and a tender, slightly chewy texture with a savory, rich "gravy". The sushi, made with brown rice, studded with toasted sesame seeds and topped with just a dab of creamy-tart veganaise, were delectable as well, I didn't even miss the absence of seafood! Wished more sushi bars would offer these creative vegan-friendly options just so my herbivore friends don't get stuck eating inari and those pitiful-looking cucumber/plum/avocado makis throughout the meal.

The staff here is very friendly as well, and I totally appreciated their patience and knowledge as they were explaining the different non-meats to unfamiliar diners.

Unfortunately, given its location casual passerbys are unlikely to discover this spot, unlike the street-level eateries in Little Tokyo. But for me, this is definitely the place to go if I feel like a delicious meal that's on the healthier side. And surely a destination eatery that's worth returning to again and again. Here's hoping that they have a strong enough customer base to stay in business.

What Do Others Say?
- Vegan foodblogger To Live and Eat in L.A. can't stop coming here too
- 63 folks from the Yelperocracy gave it an average of four stars
- VegParadise considers it "a cut above . . . a charming lunch and dinner spot"
- Omnivorous blogger Eric Nakamura likes the "great healthy food" and the nice staff
- Angelenic noted that it's sure to "rouse excitement from the local vegan crowd" but agreed on its lack of visibility

The Shojin
333 S Alameda St (3rd Floor)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 617-0305

Shojin Organic & Natural on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Yum, you got a great assortment there! I love their crispy seitan, it kind of reminds me of a schnitzel.

Khoi said...

I've never been here, but this blog has me making plans to go in the next few weeks :) mmm...

Kirby! said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this place from some of my friends... and I find myself in Little Tokyo more and more these days... there are so many hidden gems!!


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