by janet on April 28th, 2009

Admit it. NO?! OK fine I will. I’m one of those people who are like, “God I LOVE finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant! I’d MUCH rather prefer that to some Cheesecake Factory shit!” but secretly, I am skeeved when place are too hole-ey. And the Crispy Spicy Beef at Cheesecake is a salty/sweet/fatty/crispy orgasm with shiitake mushrooms on top.

Anyway, my point is this: I like to be fake indie and gush over holes-in-the-wall, but I much prefer if that hole is not actually “C” rated, overcrowded, and dirty.

Enter gr/eats.  It’s a tiny little speck of a restaurant in the Little Little Tokyo area at Sawtelle and Olympic.  It looks like it might be an art gallery but it’s a resto, a true hole-in-the-wall, but…immaculate.

Airy, blindingly white, clean.  The song playing was Song for Sunshine by Belle and Sebastian, which was so goddamn perfect I couldn’t even handle it.

I got my Japanese on and ordered the Miso Nasubi – a staple Japanese home dish, executed here flawlessly.  To be more specific – the eggplant was peeled, but not all the way peeled.  The eggplant was also perfectly glazed in an intense but somehow mellow salty and sweet miso sauce (which they call “tasty” in their menu – ummm understatement of the century).  The eggplant was also BLAZINGLY hot.  To the point where if you dipped your chopsticks in the sauce just to taste it while the eggplant cooled, you would still burn the shit out of your mouth off your chopstick sauce.

Lord.  Just looking at the photo at the top is making the saliva jets at the rear of my mouth go crazy.  The rest of my body is confusing this with a just-before-you-puke response.  It’s like, “Oh, wait, alright I didn’t think we were on an alcohol bender tonight but if we’re drunk and it’s vomming time, that’s cool – where’s the nearest toilet yo?”

Pictured immediately above is Tofu “Meatballs” – perfect orbs of fried tofu, with a little shit thrown in.  The sauce here was citrusey – kind of like if Japan did the Panda’s Orange Chicken thing, but more refined (duh).  Both the dishes were vegan, too.

The gr/eats burger has gotten some complimentary chatter on the food blogs, so it was a must-try.  It’s described as grilled Angus beef cooked medium, with a slice of Jarlsburg cheese, grilled onion, arugula, tomatoes, and our own sauce on a roll.  With it were mixed fries – described as a lightly fried mix of shoestring potatoes, yams, and bananas.  I thought they were actually bananas, and got into a mini-fight about it with Des (“Yes, I KNOW what plantains are, but I think these are actual bananas!” “You are crazy.” is how it went) and indeed, our server confirmed they were plantains, not actual bananas.

Taste = A++.  The bread – ah, the bread!  Also A++.  The temperature of the entire ensemble…lukewarm lame-o.  Perhaps it was our fault for taking time eating our appetizers, but then that’s THEIR fault for making the eggplant so lava-hot.  How dare they.

The Japanese like to super-flavor their patties (we prefer to put grated daikon radish on top, drizzle/douse it in soy sauce, and eat the patties alone with rice) and truly, there was no ketchup necessary here.  Des just kept saying, “The MEAT!”  “The MEAT!”  “The MEAT!”

Our second entree was Fried Chickenlightly fried chicken thighs dipped in our tasty teriyaki sauce, served with vegetable ribbons and seasoned rice.  Some people think that “tasty” is too generic a term to use to describe food, but I actually think it has a very specific definition.  You would never say “MMmmmMm this brownie is tasty!”  You would also never use it to describe, like, butter.  I think it describes something that is savory sweet.  Like bacon-wrapped dates – tasty is the best word to describe those.  And “tasty” works nicely here with their teriyaki sauce and perfectly moist thighs (hott).  The bummer was the tepid temperature, yet again.

The check accompaniment.  Cute cute cute.  Doesn’t it look like if you tore the fruit from the skin and put the respective parts together, it would make two hearts?  Well it does, cuz I did.


2050 Sawtelle Blvd

LA CA 90025


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