Ozu East Kitchen
 

Spicy tuna omusubi

 

"Chicken" fried tofu

Creative international ramen mashups in Atwater Village

By Peter Cheng

The brainchild of film producer turned restaurateur Paul Ti, this small neighborhood spot serving pan-Asian dishes has quickly made a name for itself in Atwater Village. In a relaxed, airy space outlined with clean whites and dark wood accents, a counter-service menu of snacks, small plates, and Ramen keeps Japanese at it’s core while incorporating the undeniable influence of Yi’s Korean-American background, along with the occasional injection of flavors from much further west.

The avocado “toast” is an inspired re-envisioning of the familiar favorite, with Ozu’s tangy, yuzu-spiked guacamole spread over crisped wedges of rice. In this new guise it’s both vegan and gluten-free—a bonus if dietary restrictions have kept you from joining in on the avocado toast fun, and delicious regardless.

Chicken karaage, made with juicy, bite-sized pieces of Jidori chicken thighs, is reminiscent of Taiwanese popcorn chicken, while the chile-citrus salt wings evoke Cantonese salt-and-pepper preparations. The Pork rolls are a simple but tasty twist on the popular beef roll dishes found in restaurants across the San Gabriel Valley.
You can easily fill up on all of these small plates, but oh, how you’d be missing out if you didn’t save room for the ramen. The Los Angeles Times described the Ozu pork ramen (pictured below) as “what may be the most characteristically LA ramen in Los Angeles.” With its clean and light broth, it’s probably healthier than others around town, too—without compromising on taste—while still offering a classic take on tonkotsu ramen.

The adventurous should try the dip ramen, a fascinating dish that sprang from the mind of owner Paul Yi, who had an idea to substitute ramen noodles for the fries in the classic French mussels dish moules frites. Chef Joshua Han further developed the idea with an Italian-inspired mugwort pesto. Dip the noodles into the miso-mussels reduction before eating this utterly untraditional tsukemen.

Yi’s creativity also shines through in a dish he created on his own years ago: the kimchi udon shrimp. Yi says that customers swear there’s cheese in the sauce, but it’s actually a combination of cream and kimchi that fools the senses, in the best way possible. Pair it with something from the small but capable selection of beer and wine, and finish with a scoop of matcha green tea gelato if you want a taste of the traditional to end your meal.

hours

Dinner: Tue–Thu 5 PM–9 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–10 PM; Sun 5 PM–9 PM
Lunch: Tue–Sun noon–3 PM
Closed Monday

price range

$6 (avocado “toast”) to $13 (kimchi udon shrimp)
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