#LAFoodCulture: Your Guide to Some of Your Favorite Restaurants in West LA's Sawtelle Neighborhood

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#LAFoodCulture: Your Guide to Some of Your Favorite Restaurants in West LA's Sawtelle Neighborhood


Originally written for Food Tribe by Elena Endres

Los Angeles is filled with amazing food from cuisines across the world. Thanks to its proximity to Asia, it’s home to some can’t-miss Asian foodie districts and Sawtelle is just one of them. 

This pocket of foodie delights is located in West LA and is more colloquially known as “Little Osaka” due to its abundance of Japanese restaurants and similarities to Little Tokyo downtown. 

While a majority of restaurants are Japanese, you’ll also find a variety of Korean, Chinese, and even Filipino shops to explore. Today we’re going through just 5 places to try in Sawtelle, but there are countless more! 

Get ready for your taste buds to be tantalized as we take you through some of our favorite spots! 


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Brian’s Shave Ice 

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Brian’s Shave Ice is the under appreciated dessert shop you need in your life. With their wildly  popular competitor, HoneyMee, next door, Brian’s draws a modest audience. It may be tempting to stray away from Brian’s quant, yet vibrant atmosphere for it’s widely popular competitor, but don’t!


Specializing in shaved ice, Brian’s offers 30 unique flavors, 5 toppings, and 4 different types of fillings including 6 ice cream flavors to choose from.

Did we also mention Dole Whip is on the menu? The ice itself is perfection. Soft, smooth, and finely shaved. It holds the flavor in place while ensuring even syrup distribution. Each and every bite is a gust of cool, refreshing delight.


While the ice is amazing, the magic of Brian’s lies within their value and customization. For $4.75 (including tax!) you can get your hands on their large size which we swear is the size of a chinchilla. This includes 3 flavors and one topping at no extra cost. 

What to try:

Flavor wise, POG is a must. It’s a mixture of passion, orange, and guava fruits. Its light fruity flavor complements basically every other flavor.

Blue raspberry and pink lemonade are also solid choices.  As for toppings, the sour spray is our go to and of course Dole Whip makes for the perfect filling for any fruity concoction. 

Overall, we recommend trying two flavors at once. Two flavors allows you to fully enjoy each flavor. Three or more flavors, the taste runs together, and you never really get the full flavor. 


CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice

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This Taiwan based bubble tea chain puts every other Instagramable, over-the-top boba shop you can find in Sawtelle to shame. 


Coco’s is uncomplicated and what it lacks in presentation it makes up in flavor and cost. All drinks are priced roughly between $3-$5.

While a majority of Coco’s menu is delicious, there’s one drink that’s a cup above the rest.

The house milk tea.  This drink is God on earth.

After taking a sip you’re hit with an unbelievable mixture of sweet, creamy, coolness that can only be described as otherworldly.

It doesn’t miss the traditional tea flavor, but also doesn’t skimp on the luscious milkiness that makes milk tea, milk tea. 

If you prefer a non-dairy based drink, their grapefruit juice is a crisp, refreshing drink perfect for walking around Sawtelle during a hot day. 


Kitchen Story 

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Often overlooked thanks to its proximity to more well-known Sawtelle eateries like Tsujita and Chinchikurin, Kitchen Story serves up traditional Korean street food, sides, and dishes.

Upon ordering, you’re presented with several refillable side dishes including: fish cake, potatoes, pickled daikon, and kimchi.  

The menu itself offers fan favorites such as tteokbokki, banchan, fried chicken, and an assortment of kimbap.

However, the true star of Kitchen Story is their kimchi fried rice.

Brought out on a sizzling plate, this dish is piled a mile high with rice, kimchi, and a protein of your choice. There’s also a sunny side egg to top it off. 

Kitchen Story brings the taste of K-town into Sawtelle. It diverges from the typical Japanese food found in the area and provides a place to get stuffed on a budget. 

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Anzu is the small shack in the corner of Sawtelle serving up Los Angeles’ greatest karaage. 


The star of their menu is clearly their fried chicken (karaage) which you can buy by the piece or as a rice dish.

One bite and your mouth is met with a perfectly crispy, bready, but not too bready outer layer.

After breaking through it’s impeccable shell, a burst of juicy, soft white meat emerges and you’re immediately sent back to the greatest day of your life. 

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There is no doubt Anzu serves up the best karaage in Sawtelle, but it’s not all they’re good for. They’re fries are a must-buy with every meal and they offer several burgers which are unexpectedly tasty.

We recommend trying the Avo Teri burger. The burger itself is a patty with avocado and mayo, but the kicker is the teriyaki sauce that comes dripping down the sides upon arrival.


Daikokuya 

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To round out our guide we’re heading to Daikokuya, LA’s most famous ramen shop. Its Little Tokyo counterpart is notorious for having a 2+ hour long wait time during dinner and for good reason. After trying countless ramens bowls in LA and Japan, Daikokuya is the closest you’ll get to an authentic bowl of ramen in the city.


Its flavor is rich, but the concept is simple; noodles, chashu, broth, and an egg to top it off. Daikokuya leaves out the flair commonly seen from trendy ramen shops like Tatsu down the street. 


We could spend the day discussing why Daikokuya ramen is bomb, but that’s not why they’re here. Popular, but hidden behind the ramen, their shredded pork bowl is why we keep coming back. The base is a fluffy bed of white rice topped off with succulent shredded pork and green onions.  

Gather a hefty spoon of rice, pork, a little onion and in just one bite the reason why you came here is revealed. The pork has a slight crispness, and little fat chunks spread throughout gives it that irresistible umami flavor.


We hope you enjoyed our journey through some of the best places to eat in Sawtelle! If you’d like to keep up with the latest foodie news sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media! 

Terence Latimer