Lunch at Otomisan

Otomisan, located in the historic Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, opened in 1956 and is the last traditional Japanese restaurant you can still find in the now heavily Latino neighborhood. When you enter the small 17-seater restaurant, you feel like you are being transported back in time. The walls are adorned with newspaper and magazine clippings, Japanese paintings, and old photographs of family and friends. The shelves are lined with small figures, dolls, and collected treasures accumulated over the years.

In 2005, one of the owners passed away, and local businesswoman, Yayoi Watanabe, purchased the restaurant with the hopes of helping keep the Japanese tradition and history in the neighborhood alive. She’s the front of house at Otomisan, buzzing around from table to table, taking orders, delivering food, and chatting with customers. She waited on our family when we went there for lunch a few weeks ago, making sure to give Costa and Paolo lots of cookies and treats on their way out. Her energy is warm and friendly, and there is no doubt she works hard and pours all of her energy into bringing delicious food to the people who walk through her doors.

The menu at Otomisan features a variety of homestyle Japanese dishes, including tonkatsu, oyakodon, teriyaki chicken, curry, and udon. The boys feasted on miso soup and big bowls of broth with udon noodles, slurping up every bite. Andre and I really wished we could get one of everything as we ate the most delicious teriyaki chicken, perfectly crispy vegetable tempura, and a big bowl of vegetable udon. The soup was exactly what I was craving on a rainy day, nourishing yet light, filled with lots of bright vegetables and chewy noodles. It’s the type of food that makes you feel like you just got a great, big hug.

Here is a round-up of what we ordered:

Miso Soup
Chicken Teriyaki Entree (Rice, Salad, Miso Soup)
Vegetable Udon
Vegetable Tempura
Broth and Udon Noodles for the boys

By the time we left, a crowd of people was waiting outside, so I recommend going early, right when they open. And make sure to check the hours as they are closed between lunch and dinner service. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.