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Ozu East Kitchen

PHOTOS: Holly Liss

LA has no shortage of neighborhoods that people in LA have never heard of (Brookside anyone?). But unlike some areas that appear to be nothing than a collection of residences with a name attached to it, the Eastside enclave of Atwater Village feels like a neighborhood. They have a cool main thoroughfare in Glendale Blvd., and despite being fairly spread out, the whole area feels cohesive, walkable, and active.

And yet up to this point, Atwater has lacked that true all-day neighborhood hangout spot. It just got one in Ozu East.

The first thing you notice about Ozu is how open it is. It’s basically one massive room with long white walls and concrete slab flooring from end to end. The second thing? Benches. Lots and lots of benches. There are no chairs at Ozu, and that’s by (its quite minimalist) design. This casual, order-at-the-counter Asian fusion spot is the type of place you stroll in with a few friends or a laptop (there’s free Wifi) and set up shop with a bowl of ramen and some beer. In a hurry? Not a problem. Call ahead for some bento box take-out glory - or if you want, eat there and you can still be in and out in under 15 minutes.

The food at Ozu isn’t anything particularly life-changing, but it also doesn’t need to be. This is accessible Asian-fusion with something for everyone. Is it the best pork ramen on the Eastside? No. But it’s still good, and noticeably lighter than every other tonkotsu being served around town. The chicken confit bento box at $10 (with soup, salad, rice, and pickled veggies) is easily your best bet for lunch. Want some avocado toast? They've got that too. Except it's zero parts toast and all parts crispy rice. It’s magic. There are plenty of other solid snack options, like the pork roll or the shishito peppers you’ll want to munch on as you work (or gossip) as well.

Above everything else, Ozu East is a concept that works. Its casual, affordable nature is not only perfect for the area - but something that was actually needed. And that’s a place everyone will want to hang out in.

Food Rundown

Avocado Toast

We like this a lot. Like, A LOT. The avocado isn't on top of actual toast, but instead a block of crispy rice, which takes this side dish to the next level. Don’t be afraid to get that hot sauce on the table involved either.

Shishito Peppers

Another must-order for the table. This gigantic helping is basically Ozu’s version of chips and salsa, only better. And we’re not complaining about that secret mayo at the bottom either.

Ozu Pork Ramen

This is not the best ramen on the Eastside. It is, however, still quite good and less filling than you would think. And that goes a long way when you have 15 minutes for lunch.

Chicken Confit Bento Box

Only served at lunch, this might be our favorite dish at Ozu. For $10, you get soup, salad, rice, pickled vegetables, and a chicken confit that’s cooked perfectly.

Pork Roll

The thing that keeps this dinner-only side dish from being like every other roll you’ve had in town is that it’s wrapped in a scallion pancake, not see-through rice paper. And for that, we will always order it.

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