Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nine Dollar And Sixty Cent Slots: Suehiro Cafe's Okonomi Plate

I think I've come to the realization that I don't like Las Vegas all that much. I mean, what can you get there that you can't get here in L.A.? OK, there's the gambling, but I just don't have that kind of luck. I don't like to lose money without getting something in return which is why shopping and I are best friends. Free drinks with your gambling business? No thanks, my wasted money is more than paying for some watered down drink. Hmm, and I guess you can smoke indoors in Vegas, like that's a good thing (yeah right). Nope, I can stay right here in La-La land for crazy intoxicated nightlife, people watching, good food--all without the 100-plus degree, lung scorching weather that seems to linger even after 3am.

So if it's gambling you're in to, I know a way you can satisfy your craving of figuring out possible combinations and then getting a 100% return on all of them right here in L.A. The game is played at
Suehiro Cafe in Little Tokyo and costs only $9.60 (plus tax and tip!). Its instructions are simple:

Please choose one item each from columns A, B, and C to make up your favorite plate.

Column A:
-Ginger Beef
-Pork or Chicken Katsu
-Broiled Saba (Mackerel) or Sanma (Saury)

Column B:
-Edamame or Natto

Column C:
-Cold Tofu
-Lightly Boiled Spinach
-Two Eggs Over Easy

OK, so each of three columns has three choices, of which you get to choose one to make up a combination...that's 27 possible combinations right? Oh but wait, they threw in an embedded option of "Boiled Saba OR Sanma" and "Edamame OR Natto." So that's, um, forty-something...aaah whatever, I'm not a mathematician. Either way, I'm picturing the slot machine wheels with the bar, 7, and cherries spinning around right now, only this game has a helluva lot less combos. And you win every time--with a great meal, that is.

Suehiro's Okonomi Plate is essentially a bento box with options. Because I'm not much of a gambler, I usually go for Possible Combination #11 which is the pork katsu from column A, the gyoza from Column B, and the boiled spinach from Column C. And no, the restaurant didn't give this combo the number eleven. I am just a nerd. It's the number I would have given this combo if I had defined the combos using my particular sequence, so don't try to ask for a number eleven, they won't know what you're talking about. I love the crispy, golden brown panko breading on the katsu, the tender, white meat underneath made even more interesting with a couple squirts of the tangy tonkatsu sauce and if you dare, some spicy yellow mustard. The gyoza's thin wrapper, browned nicely on one side, contains a tasty filling of seasoned pork and vegetables. A side of lip-smacking ponzu sauce awaits on the side for your dipping pleasure. The boiled spinach looks like they shaped into some sort of tube, whacked it in half at an angle, then put a little hat of bonito flakes on the two stumps. It's a refreshing compliment to the crispiness of the katsu and gyoza.

Yesiree folks, we have a winner!

You get a couple extras--a few bonuses--with your prize, too. Comforting miso soup starts your Okonomi meal, a bowl of rice comes with, and in your partitioned plastic bento tray comes a little mound of potato salad as well as Suehiro's shredded cabbage salad, a simple salad of crisp shredded green cabbage and a light orange colored cream dressing. It's the kind of dressing that I look forward to getting in Mom and Pop-type Japanese restaurants--something that obviously contains Kewpie mayonnaise and who knows what else, but whatever the case I love its smoothness, creaminess and subtle zestiness.

One day I will try my luck with another possible combination, perhaps #5 or #13? Or maybe I'll be daring and pick stuff at random! I know I'll probably get something good in return with those, but for now I know for sure that I get an excellent
ROI on my chosen possible combination #11, so I've been sticking with that one. I know, I know, I'm too risk averse, but isn't this great? A game with a prize every time!

Suehiro Cafe
337 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-9132


elmomonster said...

I agree with your on the whole Vegas thing. I don't gamble either and the only thing I like about Vegas is Lotus of Siam. But then there are dozens of Thai restaurants here in L.A. that are just as worthy...and you don't have to pay for a hotel room to enjoy them!

Daily Gluttony said...


So true huh? But I do want to eventually try Lotus of Siam--your write up made it sound fantastic! I'll have to make it a point to go the next time in in Vegas, whenever that is.

Kirk said...

mmmm - Suehiro was one of favorite's when we lived in LA - thanks for the reminder!

MEalCentric said...

You forget the great Vegas Buffets...seriously.

BoLA said...

The buffets in Vegas are dangerous. Can someone say gluttony? ;P I usually gorge myself with crab legs and shrimp cocktail at the all you can eat fares. It's as though I feel the need to compensate for the pricey meal ticket into the buffet + all the money that I graciously feed into the Vegas machine. (Normally, I don't gamble - but I do splurge on the shows like Cirque du Soliel.)

Suehiro's was one of my late night favorites in Little Tokyo too! A friend of mine is reopening the Chop Suey Far East Cafe on 1st Street soon...can't wait for that one to open up!

Daily Gluttony said...


I did forget the Vegas buffets, didn't I? Oy...


They're reopening the Chop Suey Far East Cafe??? I always walk by that place and have always been curious about it. What kind of food is it going to be? Let me know when it opens if you can, I'd love to check it out.

Anonymous said...

chop suey cafe is one restaurant that you don't want to waste your money,food is bad plus they use msg!