photo credit: Jakob Layman

Azay image



Little Tokyo

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchDining SoloLunch
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You’ll find Azay in a tiny storefront on 1st Street, with giant glass windows and a bright-red trim; a building that at first glance, looks like a stationary store or a modern art museum’s gift shop. But instead of overpriced postcards and Keith Haring candles, Azay offers an impressive mastery of both Japanese and French cuisines. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by Jo Ann or Philip, a mother-and-son duo who quit their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic to run Azay’s front-of-house. Along with head chef Akira (their husband/dad), this family’s been a part of the Little Tokyo community since 1946, when Jo Ann’s father opened Anzen Hardware just blocks away.

Azay image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

The menu is succinct, a mix of both French and Japanese dishes where sukiyaki beef and pork belly omurice live next to boeuf bourguignon, duck confit, and omelette francaise. Does that make Azay a fusion restaurant? Sure. But that’s like calling Julia Louis-Dreyfus that “lawyer from Arrested Development” – technically true, but so uniform it’s almost offensive. Like the 11-time Emmy winner, Azay flawlessly shapeshifts between many roles. You may find yakitori-style tacos, traditional tea ceremonies, fine dining prix-fixe menus, or bentos served with live jazz on any given night.

Of course, you should probably throw in a Japanese breakfast order too, regardless of what time it is. Packed to the brim with flaky fish, bright-yellow eggs, and white rice that’ll stick to your insides (in the best of ways), even if Azay didn’t wind up as the last in town, their version would still be our favorite.

Food Rundown

Azay image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Japanese Breakfast

Azay’s Japanese breakfast is quite understated - nothing but a tray of broiled fish, tamago, tofu, miso soup, a side of rice, plus a few pickles. The broiled fish comes with a flaky top and charred bottom, but is completely moist in the middle. Bright yellow eggs taste slightly sweet and resemble the shape and size of an elementary school kid’s eraser. Plus, the portions are perfect - not too big, not too small, and you can walk away feeling full, without needing to undo a button on your pants.
Azay image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Nagoya Hitsumabushi

A near-perfect dish. It’s grilled eel served three ways – first, enjoyed simply with just a few bites of the unagi and rice. Savor the rice’s fluffiness, contrasted with the eel’s thick and sweetened soy sauce glaze. Then add a few condiments, like crunchy green onions and seaweed, plus a dash of wasabi for spice, transforming the dish into a complex mix of flavors. Last, pour hot tea over the entire bowl to create a delicious soup, filled with eel, softened rice, and a light, neutral-tasting broth. It’s a lot of bang for your buck, plus, with all the pouring and blending, you kind of get to feel like a chemist.

Boeuf Bourguignon

We personally like the Japanese dishes more here, but if you’re looking for something from the French side of the menu, you can’t go wrong with the boeuf bourguignon. It’s just like what you’d find in any Parisian restaurant, huge chunks of red meat and thick stew that tastes of red wine and leeks. If you want to pretend like you’re in a scene from Game of Thrones, that’s up to you.


A cute little dessert from their friends at Fugetsu-Do! The Japanese confectionery provides them with plump mochi rice cakes, a semi-sweet, gelatinous treat that never tastes too sugary, that are paired with a house-made red bean soup and a few strips of kombu.

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Suggested Reading

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Baldoria is a bar and restaurant in Little Tokyo that was built for groups looking for a good time.

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Daichan is a strip mall spot on Ventura in Studio City that specializes in Japanese comfort food.

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