Aki Restaurant West Los Angeles

Restaurants like Aki in West LA are a dying breed. Imagine when Japanese food was something exotic. Teriyaki and sukiyaki are words seldom used these days, but it lives on in classic establishments like this. There’s not many who still have the mid century Japanification by usage of rice paper screens, carved wood signs and wooden tea house stylings. I grew up in my family’s restaurant (Hakata 1970-2002) which began similar complete with the vinyl booth seats and it turns out that the owner of Aki, Mr Hada actually went to the grand opening in 1970. He opened Aki in 1974 which makes the place 38 years old.

Two simple ala carte items. Beef Teriyaki and Chirashi. They can’t be any way similar except there’s rice included. There’s almost nothing to review, both are made with history. They’re both the epitome of what it’s supposed to be, as if they were made to illustrate the entry in Wikipedia. Beef cooked just right, the sauce Americanized, sweeter and thick. Rice is firm. Chirashi. Done fine. It’s all in there. Aside from the actual dish, the miso soup and side sunomono are all what you’d expect and that’s how they’re still around. Prices are in the $15+ range for an entree at dinner. It’s more than the food, it’s the type of place, the history, and the impending doom of places like this. Will anyone open a new one similar? The kids these days will open new establishments. It’s hard to call them restaurants with tasty food, but will they be around for 10 years much less 38? No way.

Read more about Aki Restaurant in BestofLA blog. It’s what’s reminded me of this place and the few others like it that still stand. The weird thing is that the owner of Aki are my neighbors.

Aki
11513 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 479-8406

2 Comments

  1. 30 August 12, 4:48pm

    Hey Eric,

    I hate to think of places like Aki’s as a dying breed. But then again, that’s what I think of the JA community as a whole at times. Regardless, a place like Aki’s has been around for generations, serving up reliably good Japanese food that tastes like good home cooking. Loyal customers and their families continue to eat at Aki’s, including my own… and I’m hopeful that in the midst of food fads and new restaurants on every corner of Sawtelle, Aki’s will still be there for the new generation. I know we’ll continue to take my son Chase to meet my family for a good dinner out at Aki’s.

    ps) Thanks for the shout-out! It’s good to be neighbors with you too! ;)

  2. DeanS
    30 August 12, 11:07pm

    Gotta love old school type places like these. I remember when Mitsuru in Little Tokyo was still on First St and you could order rice in covered tubs(my dad and mom remember ordering 3 tubs there once when they were dating and he was in the army). I’ve been to a few places like this over the years in Gardena, wonder if they are still around?
    I still have a place in my heart for little mom and pop bento places, one place I remember was in Long Beach off of Santa Fe next to a small Japanese market (that I believe had its roots in Terminal island) they sold the bentos between paperplates with some wax paper to keep the food from sticking.

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