If Izakaya Fu-ga existed in the 1920’s, I like to thing it would have been a sophisticated speakeasy like the ones we see in the old films from the 1930’s: You walk (or elevator) down a flight of stairs, turn the corner, and into a dimly lit dining area decorated with black furnishings. Men in suits, women in dresses, and fine food served with alcoholic drinks. Although customers are dressed casually, and prohibition over, I can picture the same scene today. Fu-ga categorizes itself as an izakaya. In Japan, an izakaya is a bar which serves food, sort of like a pub. In the United States, it generally means a place that serves appetizer -sized dishes, like a tapas restaurant. In that respect, it is pricier than other izakaya restaurants, but the portions are larger, and just slightly smaller than what you would get at a typical Japanese restaurant. Thus, the prices are on par with a regular Japanese restaurant, with just slightly smaller portions. More importantly, though, the food is quality, and across the board. It is one of those places where I want to try everything on the menu.
I suppose, as with other restaurants in Little Tokyo, Fu-ga has three distinct set of customers. The lunch hour crowd would mostly be workers from the area; the dinner crowd would be the pre-theatre goers, locals, and those on a dinner date, and the late night crowd would also be locals, the post-theatre crowd, and younger folks at some stage of their nightlife.
The lunch menu is limited, but has some of the best deals you can find in Little Tokyo. For instance, they offer a char broiled 21 days aged premium rib eye steak for $9.95 and a filet mignon saikoro steak for $10.95. Not in the mood for steak, they have a fish and chicken selection, some sandwiches, salad, and my favorite, the sushi lunch combination, which includes your choice of a special sushi roll, an entrée, and miso soup for $9.95.
I went with a party of four and of course, I sampled some of my friends’ foods. The Char broiled rib eye steak is tender, juicy and flavorful. I didn’t order it, but when I tasted it, I thought, “Darn. I should have ordered that.” The filet mignon was served cubed, and it was also tender, juicy and flavorful. I don’t know how many ounces of steak you get, but considering a petite filet mignon could easily cost twice as much at a steakhouse, $10.95 is a price hard to beat for this dish. I did not sample the taste of the broiled shrimp salad, but it looked pleasing to the eye, and seemed to be a nice sized portion.
I had the special sushi lunch combination. For this selection, you get to pick one sushi roll of thirteen, an entrée of 6, and miso soup for $9.95. I selected the Albacore Delight Roll (Albacore and cucumber roll, covered with albacore and garlic ponzu sauce). For the entrée, I selected the mini udon. The udon came in a small bowl, but larger than I had expected. It was very good. As for the albacore delight roll, I’d like to try the other special rolls, but I feel I will return to this roll as my usual roll to order – and that’s because I love albacore, and this roll did not disappoint. The rice was good, which would indicate that any sushi they make would be good, and the only consideration for you would be the fillings you are in the mood for. And just hearing the words garlic ponzu makes any dish taste better.
On a return visit during the evening, I had the pleasure of ordering their Japanese ceviche. Not on the regular menu, I believe it was a happy hour special. I must say, that this was one of the best ceviche I have ever had. It contained seared tuna, and instead of tortilla chips, was garnished with fried wonton chips. This, I will say, the portion was small, an izakaya serving, so to say. It was $6.00; it was so good, but I resisted the urge to order a second. Not only was the seared tuna perfect, but it had the proper amount of “citrusness” and tanginess.
I’ve not yet experienced the late night dining, but would expect to be impressed based on my lunch and dinner visits. The service is friendly, efficient and attentive, which always is a plus. Like I have said in previous reviews of places I love: great food and great service, you can’t beat that.
Fu-ga is located at 111 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, California.