Photo credit: mattatouille

I’m always in the mood for a good izakaya place. Japanese tapas-esque dishes, good drink menu = a happy Chris Hei. I remember sometime last year, after being fairly impressed by Musha, Lawrence and Susan told me about a comparable restaurant that was much closer. That comparable restaurant turned out to be Sasaya. On my visit last year, I remember the food being pretty good, but nothing that was noteworthy. But now that I live a couple of blocks away, it seemed like a good time to revisit the restaurant. So Ben and I came last Monday after basketball.

Unfortunately, I looked like an idiot because I broke my glasses while playing basketball. So I was alternating between wearing glasses taped up with sports tape, and having the menu an inch away from my face when I was too embarrassed to wear the glasses. I even put on a pair of sunglasses over the taped-up glasses. That’s right, I wear my sunglasses at night. Anyways, back to topic. Lawrence and Susan really love Sasaya, and they’ve been a little disappointed that I didn’t share their enthusiasm. But maybe this visit will change my mind…

PhotoTakowasa – wasabi marinated raw octopus

Interesting little dish. It really was a little dish, but a pretty good one at that. The wasabi is very much present.

PhotoUnagi Kabayaki – broiled freshwater eel with sweet sauce

Ben chose this. Not bad, but it’s just eel with eel sauce cut up in pieces.

PhotoTeba Age – crispy fried chicken wings doused in our house spicy sauce

I enjoyed this on my last visit, and it didn’t disappoint on this visit either. Very juicy, surprising for wings. Had a nice sweet (and slightly spicy) glaze.

PhotoTsukune – chicken meat ball, Negima – chicken thigh and green onion, Momo – chicken thigh

Their yakitori was just okay. I was really in the mood for some, since I haven’t had any in a long time, but this didn’t exactly fill that void. I’m thinking about going to Torihei this week to appease that desire. I also had two other dishes not pictured (due to them being blurry from me taking the photos without glasses): Agedashi Tofu and Kurobuta Kakuni. The tofu was a good dish, among the better agedashi tofu dishes I’ve tried. But like the yakitori, the pork was just okay. It was kind of dry, and the sauce was a little too sweet.

My two visits to Sasaya have pretty much confirmed this: that it’s a nice local place to grab some small bites and have a good time. Not going to eat anything amazing, but the izakaya dishes are solid for the most part. I hope Lawrence and Susan don’t feel offended, since they take their “foodie” knowledge quite seriously. But I do feel like I’ll be coming to Sasaya on occasion from now on due to its proximity. For a true izakaya experience, however, I might have to go elsewhere.

Chris Hei grade: B-


11613 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 477-4404


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