Destinations

Deener's Little Tokyo Guide for a Perfect Valentine's/Galentine's Day (or whichever you celebrate) Date

January 30, 2018
Dina "Deeners" Furumoto

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or just want to give yourself some self-lovin’, Little Tokyo has got you covered for your romantic day and evening. If you want to feel love in the air while supporting community, check out my guide to planning the perfect date.

Start the morning off with a JiST Breakfast

For those lucky people who get Wednesday off or want to start the lovin’ early, I suggest beginning your day with a lovely breakfast or early lunch at JiST café

Everything is delicious off their menu, from the Lucky Ducky to their Porky Omurice, but I suggest you get the best of both worlds and order both sweet and savory! 

Chashu Hash Skillet
Photo Credit: JiST Cafe

Order the Chashu Hash Skillet (that family secret marinade is to die for) and the Creme Fraiche Pancakes (fluffy goodness!). 

I like to think the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, so you can’t go wrong with a hearty meal first thing in the morning.

"I like to think the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, so you can’t go wrong with a hearty meal first thing in the morning."


JiST Cafe
116 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 792-2116
jistcafe.com


Show off your artistic & cultured side and go to a museum

The great thing about Little Tokyo is there are so many museums around with captivating, visual, and interesting exhibitions. These will definitely show off your cultured side to whomever you are taking out.

"These will definitely show off your cultured side to whomever you are taking out."

The Japanese American National Museum

Their Transpacific Borderlands exhibition has some Instagram-worthy art installations from artists of Japanese ancestry from around the world. 

Transpacific Borderlands
Photo Credit: @jamuseum

The Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.janm.org

Go For Broke National Education Center 

Got a history-lover as your date? Impress them by taking them to the Defining Courage exhibition! This exhibition is very interactive, so it definitely won’t feel like you’re reading panels from a history textbook.

Defining Courage exhibition

Go For Broke National Education Center
355 E. 1st Street, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.goforbroke.org

Geffen MOCA

The Adrian Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance is for those wanting an edgy, intimate experience. The massive art installation transports you to a different world that is one that is unique to the viewers.

Adrian Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance
Photo Credit: MOCA

The Geffen Contemporary MOCA
152 North Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.moca.org

Enjoy some afternoon snacks at the Japanese Village Plaza

Why not take the day leisurely with some coffee or tea and snacks? Little Tokyo has some great places to snack mid-day and enjoy a conversation.

Café Dulce

Café Dulce is quite a gem in the Japanese Village Plaza. I’m a regular at this café –– not only are their donuts and drinks great, but their customer service is so welcoming (along with their enjoyable music). Take a seat inside or enjoy the lively plaza by sitting outside.

Look at that gorgeous Strawberry Donut.
Photo Credit: @cafedulcela

When it comes to the menu, you really can’t go wrong. For coffee lovers, I’d recommend their Dulce Latte (which is sweetened with condensed milk). For non-coffee drinkers, go for their London Fog or Jasmine Tea Latte. Feel free to ask them to replace their whole milk with oat milk (yaaaas, something more hipster outside of the almond milk option).

Lots of people like Café Dulce’s bacon donuts, but why not aim for something a little different for your date? Try the chocolate creamy donut or strawberry jelly donut.

Cafe Dulce
134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.cafedulce.co

Mitsuru Café

"Treat yourself or impress your date with some freshly made authentic deliciousness!"

For those wanting something attached to the heart and soul of Little Tokyo, aim to get imagawayaki from Mitsuru Café (not to be mistaken for Mitsuru Grill on 1st Street). These pancakes filled with red bean paste and are popular with visitors of Little Tokyo.

Freshly made imagawayaki.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snatch them being made in the window and snag some that are hot and fresh. Treat yourself or impress your date with some freshly made authentic deliciousness!

Mitsuru Cafe
117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Walk off your snack by shopping or enjoying a garden

James Irvine Japanese Garden

"Escape the bustling city and go somewhere more serene, and take in the nature and lovely stream."
James Irvine Japanese Garden
Photo Credit: RackedLA

Enjoy a stroll in the Japanese garden, located in the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Escape the bustling city and go somewhere more serene, and take in the nature and lovely stream.

James Irvine Japanese Garden
244 S. San Pedro St., Basement Level
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.jaccc.org

Japangeles 

"...rep some Little Tokyo gear and even purchase some matching outfits (if that is your thaaanggg)."
The Katakana coach jacket
Photo Credit: @japangeles

Support local small businesses and stop by Japangeles –– rep some Little Tokyo gear and even purchase some matching outfits (if that is your thaaanggg).

Japangeles
141 Japanese Village Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.japangeles.com

Leola Lace

Check out those cute bangles!
Photo Credit: @leolalace

Treat yourself or your date to some cute jewelry. I come here to purchase dainty cute earrings, rings, and necklaces. They even sell cute clothes if you want to change your outfit for the rest of the day!

Leola Lace
301 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
 

When It's Time For Dinner 

Something Intimate and Vibe-y - Baldoria

This is my go-to-dinner spot. Not only is it a switch from your Japanese food hub, it is a place that has amazing pizza, small plates, and great drink selections. The vibe is intimate and the service is on point.

Bottled craft cocktails
Photo Credit: @baldoriadtla

I’m a sour beer lover, so I appreciate their selection of sour beers on the menu. What makes them really unique, though, is that they bottle their cocktails.

You can never go wrong with pizza and small plates.
Photo Credit: @baldoriadtla

For small plates, I recommend the Ricotta Toast, Smashed Fingerlings, Carribean Spiced Duck Wings. My pizza picks: Charred Octopus or/and Lil Tokyo Steak.

Baldoria DTLA
243 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.baldoriadtla.com

Something Little Tokyo – Suehiro or Koraku

"Those who want a home-y diner kind of vibe with a date who can’t seem to decide what they want to eat (#guilty)..."

Those who want a home-y diner kind of vibe with a date who can’t seem to decide what they want to eat (#guilty), Suehiro or Koraku are two restaurants with a large selection of Japanese food on their menu.

What I recommend: Tenshin Chahan Ankake (Koraku) or the Suehiro House Special (Suehiro)

Koraku
314 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Suehiro
337 East 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Something Ramen But Also Different - RAKKAN 

"I’m always looking for something different and unique, and this place is a standout amongst the typical ramen places."

Don’t want to wait in line at Daikokuya? Try these places instead and impress your date by not making them wait.

RAKKAN Those who are vegan or vegetarian, there is ramen hope for you! This is a ramen chain from Japan, and they feature unique vegetable-based broths.

Kohaku ramen!
Photo Credit: @rakkanusa

Despite not being vegetarian or vegan, I enjoyed the light flavor of the broth. I’m always looking for something different and unique, and this place is a standout amongst the typical ramen places.

RAKKAN Ramen
359 East 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The After Dinner Party

Desserts:

YUMMMM!
Photo Credit: @snowya_official

Snowya 

Either get a warm fresh croissant taiyaki or a taiyaki filled with soft serve (similar to SomiSomi)! YUM. 

Snowya
123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St. Suite 103
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Mikawaya 

Share a scoop of gelato, or try some mochilato or mochi ice-cream!

Mikawaya
118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Drinks:

Wolf + Crane 

My go-to-drink is the Grey Wolf, their take on a greyhound. 

Wolf & Crane
366 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.wolfandcranebar.com

Far Bar

Outside seating at Far Bar
Photo Credit: @farbar_la

Gotta love the historic Far East Building! Enjoy the history while drinking. My go-to-drink: Atarashi Highball or Hitachino Nest Anbai Ale.

Far Bar
347 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.farbarla.com

"Consider this list a valentine gift from me to you, and treat your date to some Little Tokyo love."

Dina "Deeners" Furumoto

Dina Furumoto is currently the Marketing Coordinator at Kizuna. She graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2015 with a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminology and a minor in Political Science. Dina has had interned in numerous organizations in the Japanese American community. In 2011, she participated in Kizuna’s Nikkei Community Internship and was placed the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center. Dina also served as an Exhibition’s intern at the Japanese American National Museum under the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship, as well as a Social Media intern at Keiro. With her combined internships and experiences, she has been able to participate in various organizations in the Japanese American community. Working with Kizuna has allowed Dina to continue to pursue her passions of giving back and being involved in the community. Dina also shares a deep passion of baking and Kizuna has helped pursue her pastry dreams by allowing her to be a host of their cooking show called Dinner with Deeners.