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Restaurant Travel

48 Hours in Los Angeles to Eat as Much Ramen to Sushi as You Can

Got a layover, or maybe you’re taking a quick weekend trip? Well, this list will help you maximize your time eating vs. stuck in a car singing along to Taylor Swift.

Let’s get this out of the way, LA is a driving city, so you will need to rent a car, or you need to be prepared to Uber and Lyft it everywhere.

Rideshare services have the additional benefits of you not having to pay for pricey parking or valet costs. Also, if you are not familiar with LA, you will have to park and remember how to make it back to your parking lot/garage in sometimes sketchy neighborhoods.

If you have never used any rideshare services before, please feel free to use my promo code which will allow you to get upwards of $2 off of your first 3 rides:

LYFT: greg3992 (Android/iOS)

UBER: gregt770 (Android/iOS)

Not just sushi and ramen

Los Angeles is going to be one of the only places in the U.S. (not even NY or the SF Bay Area can come close) to the amount of Japanese food available from tonkatsu, yakitori, izakaya’s, udon, soba, curry, to ramen

Little Tokyo fire tower made out of metal (you can learn from the 3 little pigs).

Your experience will be largely dependent upon which of the five airports in the Los Angeles metro area you fly into because traffic and driving will be your biggest issue

Most of my friends who come to visit are not aware that Los Angeles International is not the only airport, so they always have a tendency to fly into LAX. Fortunately for you, if you are flying in for business or on vacation, you can plan accordingly to maximize your time not being in traffic:

  1. LAX (Los Angeles International): if you are flying in or out of LAX, you will need at least 45 min-1 hour to get through security or to have your bags checked in (ONT to SNA, I can get through security in probably under 10 minutes and to my gate in a matter of minutes).
  2. BUR (Hollywood/Burbank Airport): eating Japanese food in the valley is not the greatest although there are a few good spots in the area although I recommend all the other airports.
  3. LGB (Long Beach Airport): I have only dropped off a few people at the Long Beach Airport, and I have never flown into or out of LGB. So if you choose LGB, at least you will be in between LAX and SNA with a bunch of Thai, Cambodian, and a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle nearby.
  4. SNA (John Wayne Airport): I lived only about 8 minutes away in Newport Beach (Newport Heights), and it really never felt like I lived next to an airport because rich folk have major pull. This is the airport if you are going to do anything in Orange County from Disneyland to Huntington Beach.
  5. ONT (LA/Ontario Airport): this is the one airport where I got to experience what crabbing is (when your flight is attempting a landing with extreme cross winds). The pilot of that flight where I experienced that came on the PA and announced “whew, barely nailed that one” (everybody on board including myself laughed with nervous laughter/relief).

1. Little Tokyo and Japantown

If you are visiting either Little Tokyo located in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), or Sawtelle Japantown (W.LA), you can easily walk around from one restaurant to another with no need to drive in most cases.

*Pricing, drive times, and distances are all approximated and they can fluctuate dramatically due to a number of variables (weather, accidents, to number of passengers).

Little Tokyo Los Angeles (DTLA)

LAX to Little Tokyo

Daikokuya Ramen, East 1st street (19.2 miles)

  • Approx. 21 mins, off peak hours, $18-32 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 37 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $21-37 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 1 h 12 min, early evening rush hour/5pm, $23-39 LYFT/UBER

BUR to Little Tokyo

Daikokuya Ramen, East 1st street (16.4 miles)

  • Approx. 19 mins, off peak hours, $18-34 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 40 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $19-33 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 49 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $23-39 LYFT/UBER.

NOTABLE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA (links are for driving directions): Daikokuya Ramen, Marugame Monzo (E. 1st st), Sushi Gen (E. 2nd st/Honda Plaza), Kagaya (E. 2nd st/Honda Plaza), Chinchikurin (E. 1st st), Izakaya Gazen (E. 1st st), Men Oh Tokushima Ramen (E. 2nd st/Honda Plaza), Izakaya & Bar Fu-ga (San Pedro st), Shojin/ryori (Little Tokyo Market Place), Honda-ya (Little Tokyo Market Place), Kura Revolving Sushi Bar (E. 2nd st), Rakkan (E. 1st st), Ikkousha Ramen (E. 2nd st), Curry House Japanese Curry & Spaghetti (Weller Court), Tanota Takoyaki (E. 1st st), Hachioji Craft Ramen (E. 1st st), Far Bar (E. 1st st.), and Wolf & Crane (I had to add these two bars).

Sawtelle Japantown (W.LA)

LAX to Sawtelle Japantown

Tsujita Artisan Noodles, Sawtelle Blvd (8.4 miles)

  • Approx. 13 mins, off peak hours, $15-25 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 31 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $15-28 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 26 mins early evening rush hour/5pm, $23-39 LYFT/UBER

NOTABLE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA (links are for driving directions): Tsujita Artisan Noodle (Sawtelle blvd), Tsujita Artisan Noodle Annex (Sawtelle blvd), Killer Noodles (Sawtelle blvd), Sushi Tsujita (Sawtelle blvd), Tatsu Ramen (Sawtelle blvd), Daikokuya (Sawtelle blvd), to Menya Musashi Ramen (Sawtelle blvd), Nanbankan (Santa Monica blvd), Marugame Udon (Sawtelle blvd), Red Rock (Sawtelle blvd), Manpuku (Sawtelle blvd).


2. Outside of Little Tokyo and Japantown, these neighborhoods have a number of great Japanese restaurants.

Each of these areas, neighborhoods, restaurants will all be within minutes of each other although in most cases you will have to drive from one venue to another.

Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa (Paularino), yea it is a food court, but it’s a great one.
Next to Santouka, this is where I like to get some tongue, Gyutan Tsukasa.

Costa Mesa (Orange County)

SNA to Costa Mesa

Santouka Ramen, Paularino (3.8 miles)

  • Approx. 7 mins, off peak hours, $11-12 LYFT/UBER (no pool option).
  • Approx. 10 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $11-12 LYFT/UBER (no pool option).
  • Approx. 16 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $11-13 LYFT/UBER (no pool option).

NOTABLE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA (links are for driving directions): Ikkousha Ramen (Bristol st/Mitsuwa), Kitakata Ramen (Baker st), Murasaki Sushi (Santa Ana), Ikko Japanese Restaurant (Baker st), Zetton Ramen (Baker st), Izakaya Hachi (Bristol st), Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori (Fountain Valley), Manpuku/yakiniku (Baker st), Gyutan Tsukasa (Paularino st/Mitsuwa), Tenkatori Karaage (Bristol st), Meiji Seimen (Paularino st), Sanuki Seimen Mugimaru (Paularino st/Mitsuwa)

Torrance/Gardena (South Bay)

LAX to Torrance/Gardena

Izakaya Hachi, West Carson street (11.8 miles)

  • Approx. 16 mins, off peak hours, $16-25 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 20 mins, late morning rush hour/9 am, $15-26 LYFT/UBER
  • Approx. 31-42 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $17-29 LYFT/UBER

NOTABLE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA (links are for driving directions): Ikkousha Ramen (Torrance), Santouka Ramen (Torrance), Zabon Ramen (Torrance), Izakaya Hachi (Torrance), Kagura/tonkatsu (Torrance), Miyabi Uni (Torrance), Torihei Yakitori Robata Dining (Torrance), Kappo Irifune (Torrance), Seikoen/yakiniku (Torrance), Wadatsumi (Torrance), Jidaiya Ramen (Gardena), Kotohira/udon (Gardena), Fukagawa/soba/udon (Gardena), Furaibo/chicken wings (Gardena), Kura Revolving Sushi Bar (Torrance), Umemura Ramen (Gardena), Torimatsu/yakitori (Gardena), Shin-sen-gumi yakitori/chanko nabe (Gardena).


3. Off the Beaten Path

These airports will only put you in the general area where you will have to drive.

If I had not dated somebody in the Valley, I may have never found Kai Ramen or Birrieria Mexico in Van Nuys.

The Valley (San Fernando Valley to the SGV)

BUR to the Valley

Kai Ramen, Sherman Oaks (11.3 miles)

  • Approx. 16 mins, off peak hours, $17-27 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 27 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $15-23 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 30-32 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $15-25 LYFT/UBER

Tatsunoya Ramen, Pasadena, CA (15.5 miles)

  • Approx. 16 mins, off peak hours, $18-25 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 21 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $19-27 LYFT/UBER.
  • Approx. 34-42 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $18-29 LYFT/UBER.

ONT to the Valley

Tatsunoya Ramen, Pasadena, CA (37.9 mi)

  • Approx. 37 mins, $50+ LYFT (Uber n/a).
  • Approx. 56 mins, late morning rush hour/9am, $55 LYFT (Uber n/a).
  • Approx. 51-1h 10 mins, early evening rush hour/5pm, $58 LYFT (Uber n/a).

If you’re stuck on the 405, 10, 101, the 5, or even the 91, sing along with me “Nice to meet you…”

“…where you been?
I could show you incredible things
Magic, madness, heaven sin
Saw you there and I thought
Oh my God, look at that face
You look like my next mistake
Love’s a game, want to play?
New money, suit and tie
I can read you like a magazine
Ain’t it funny, rumors, lie
And I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends
I’m dying to see how this one ends
Grab your passport and my hand
I can make the bad guys good for a weekend….”

For the rest of the lyrics, click here

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