Otomi ~ Japanese Food in Boyle Heights ~

I have loved Japanese culture ever since my mind was warped by The G-Force, Astro Boy, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and of course The Power Rangers..… Laugh it up all you want….Ok so that childhood love kept growing and I love Japanese food, except sushi. Don’t know why, just don’t ok. Anyway, Japanese is delicious and I love that it’s so close to home. I use to go to Little Tokyo, but then me puse las pilas and I remembered about Otomi.

The place has been around for more than 50 years and has gone through 3 owners, according to the L.A. Times piece. But what about the food you ask ? Esta sabrosa. They have a variety of dishes and bento boxes, noodles and of course sushi plates. 

I brought a friend along because I don’t like eating alone and we got things started off right with some great miso soup. I always love getting miso because of it’s great taste and the tofu chunks mmm…

Sticking to the tofu, I ordered a tofu bowl because I know some readers and fellow bloggers have no love for meat. The four huge squares were deep fried and man were they good. Nice and crispy on the outside and not gooey on the inside. Nice. The sauce that came with it gave the tofu, the rice and vegetables a nice added kick that wasn’t too sweet, but just right. Since it’s a bowl I pace myself eating a little bit of everything, but as I was filling up, there was still food left in the bowl. Always a good sign. I did the chop sticks for a while, but half way through I got a fork, a la chingada con los pinche palitos. 

My friend got a Beef Teriyaki plate that comes with a side of rice and salad. I picked at his plate a few times, to his dismay and the beef was good. The seeds and sauce add a nice taste that goes superb with the salad. My friend is a greedy bastard (I say that with love of course) and he has eyes bigger than his mouth. That’s why he ordered a Spider Roll. They have nice selection that include california rolls, salmon roll, rainbow and dragon rolls. Again, I’m not one for sushi so yeah… try it for yourself. 

The place is super small and there are only a few tables and a counter, which you won’t notice because you’ll be too into your food. It’s really intimate and the decor all over the walls looks like it’s been there for 50 years. 

Otomi is definitely worth checking out because for me, it’s way closer than going to little tokyo, but the prices are about the same. Dishes go from  $7 to $12 so it’s not a place you can go to everyday. It located at 2506 1/2 E. 1st. Street  (323) 526.1150 



~ Arigato ~Â

12 thoughts on “Otomi ~ Japanese Food in Boyle Heights ~

  1. No worries man – I love G-Force as well from Battle of the Planets (US) – Gatchaman (JPN)

    Gatchaman sugoi ne. Cho suki desu.

    Boyle Heights used to be Nihonjin no kinjo (Japanese neighborhood). They settled in Boyle Heights after moving to L.A. so I am sure this is sort of one those places that opened during that time and am sure it is authentic.

    I lived in Boyle Heights for a while, off of 1st, and can not believe I never noticed the spot.

    Thanks for turning me to this and Ima try it soon


  2. I always have mad love for Voltron !!! Sometimes there’s soo many good shows, I forget about a few. But you guys have to check it out when you get the chance, definitely worth it. Now all we need is a manga cafe and I’ll be one happy otaku.

  3. Did anyoe ever get the callejones/swapmeet voltron that cut up and pinched the shite out of your fingers before the arms fell off?

    there’s an astroboy animated movie coming out, it looks cool. god bless having a 6 year old son!

  4. My anti-spam word was arroz. 🙂

    I’ve been meaning to go there for years. It’s the last Japanese restaurant in BH. I’ve read and heard that the sushi and sashimi is okay. It’s good to see they keep it pretty down to earth. The fact they haven’t succumbed to using plastic dishes is probably a good indication that they care. At the same time, the fact that the dishes don’t match is another good sign that they put the meal presentation ahead of the restaurant presentation. They hit that sweet spot where you care about appearances, but not too much.

    The corollary is: if you go to a place with matching plastic plates, you’re probably going to get a lousy meal.

  5. @lovegalo – actually, Japanese first settled into, mostly, farming communities around LA, which was more agricultural at the time, and in the downtown area that became Little Tokyo. The ones on the farms were contract labor to pick food and stuff. Anyway, the city dwellers lived in the area between 1st st and 8th st, where it’s mostly warehouses now. They moved into Boyle Heights mostly after the war, after they got back on their feet. A couple other areas around downtown where folks settled after WW2 were Pico Union/Koreatown and Hollywood.

    I think other areas people clustered, both before and after the war, were Venice/Sawtelle, Watts, Compton, Gardena, Monterey Park, Santa Ana, Pacoima/San Fernando, Lancaster, Riverside, Orange, Pasadena, Culver City, Long Beach. These areas, before WW2, were mixed urban/agricultural areas. Some still are, of course.

    Anyway, there used to be a huge Japanese population in LA, but it’s declined due to people moving away to suburbs and exurbs (and other states), lack of immigration after 1924, and, to some extent, outmarriage. The outmarriage goes both ways – the absolute numbers of people who claim ancestry has increased, but numbers of Japantowns and identifiable communities has declined to almost nothing.

    Anyway, this is turning into a gentrification post, so I’ll stop for now.

    I’ve been meaning to get permission to post a great article by Mo Nishida about gentrification and Little Tokyo. Since I’m posting this here, now I gotta do it.

  6. “Excellent…” not !!! Than ks for the info human. I’m hesitent at placing Keanu is playing such a rich and kick ass character like Spike, but I totally agree that this is a long time coming. I LOVE cowboy bebop and with the up coming Dragon Ball Z movie adaptation and the CG Astro Boy movie, anime is coming up. The only thing I question is how some of the hardcore otaku and japanese culture references will translate so people not familiar with them will get them.

  7. Otomi is a humble place with three humbly dedicated staff – Yayoi’san (current owner and waitress), Hamada’san (cook) and Negi’san (cook).
    For an authentically Japanese dish, I suggest trying the Yamakake (a slimy white substance from some root over rice) and if they have it, kinpira gobo.
    I will be working at Otomi’san next week (3/23-3/31) as Yayoi’san will be out of town.
    Please stop in and support your local business, then go to Eastside Luv after!

  8. i finally went there. it was really good and made me nostalgic for the old little tokyo, which was a lot like otomi. it was like stepping back into the past in so many ways.

    oh yes, one question. i notice that at the food 4 less on olympic, they sell yama imo (to make yamakake). who is buying this?

  9. Al- I just wanted to ask you about the two Chinese Restaurants on Whittier Blvd., between Atlantic and Eastern, they look like they are still there after even the 60’s and 70’s, I don’t know if either of the two still has an original owner or family running it! Do you have any info on these two time capsules? One, next to the Original “Borjas” pool hall can clearly be seen in “Boulevard Nights” as Chuco walks by after leaving “Pueblo” Liquor Store and briefly speaking to the “homegirls” from The Big VGV! Please let me know!!

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