Shojin in Little Tokyo

The thin friendly waiter said that we have to try this. Before he did, he asked if we were vegan and how we found out about the place. Giant Robot was once in downtown LA. We were in a loft in Little Tokyo and I’d frequent the exact spot where Shojin restaurant is located. There was a spot called Cafe Lauren, which was one of the best around. Anyone been there? Recently, I took a walk through, just to see how things are in the mall. I ran into Shojin, it wasn’t open for business yet, but it looked nice. Shojin to my knowledge is a Buddhist related meal. You’ll eat Shojin food if you stay at a Buddhist temple. I’m sure the food won’t be as extensive as what you get at Shojin in Little Tokyo.

Above: Organic Tomato Tartar. The white blocks: it’s tofu cheese. I don’t like cheese in general, so I had to ask what was in it. It’s tofu and miso with tomato and avocado. It’s a salad like appetizer that you pick at, and it’s refreshing and tasty. The tofu does have a cheese like texture, but it taste like tofu. 
This is Tsukune or Fried Garden Seitan. It’s a meat ball dish made with seitan that’s quite simple, but the sauces were great.
The soy sauce with scallion had some sweetness to it. The other reddish sauce is a homemade ketchup which had a slight salsa flavor. I preferred the soy sauce. 
Yes many things are organic. They do their shopping at the farmer’s market in downtown. Even the lemon in the water (if you ask for lemon) will be an organic lemon.
It’s the same layout as Cafe Lauren.

I got the Shojin Okara Cake. It’s not okra, it’s okara, which is sort of like the dregs of tofu. This one is mixed with cashew, mushroom , and garlic. Certain Japanese markets will give it to you free, and if you know what you’re doing, it turns out great. Below it is a brown rice porridge which tasted great with the okara.

This is the bento box. This has a little bit of everything. The BBQ Seitan in the left corner was amazing. Then raw kale with tofu was simple, Japanese pumpkin with some pumpkin seeds had some veggie bitterness, and hijiki which is a seaweed with carrot and gobo was tasty. It comes with brown rice. This is the healthiest dish they serve.
Whoa there… That’s what I had to say when this came. Green Tea Moss Cake. It’s larger than it looks when it shows up. It’s the green tea, azuki bean, and date, cake that comes with rice cream. There’s toasted almond, dried apple bits, and oats and matcha sauce.
Shojin is located on the top floor of the Mitsuwa market building in Little Tokyo. Park at level four, walk across the bridge, and take in your parking ticket for validation. It’s not a quick rush place, and it’s not super slow, but it’s comfortable, and a great vibe. No need to rush here. It wasn’t crowded on a friday night, so this is a spot to support. They have simple stuff like pasta, curry, and other seitan dishes, along with soups and salads.
I don’t want to be a downer and say that this mall is dying, but compared to ten years ago, when there was an arcade, and before that, a bowling alley, and then many years before that, a movie theater, I wonder what’s going to happen here. Either way, this is a place to check out whether you’re vegan or not. It’s great healthy food and the staff might be the nicest I’ve ever experienced. You’ll feel great leaving know that you’re supporting the people, food, and the spirit of this place. Dinner entrees might be 10-17.

333 S. Alameda St #310 LA 90013 213-617-0305
wed, thurs, sun 12-10p.
fri, sat 12-11p