You don’t need a DeLorean nor a blue British police box if you’re interested in time travel. Pay a visit to Sawtelle Tempura House and you’ll swear that you must have somehow stepped back in time 25 years. While the new restaurants on Sawtelle sport flat screen video monitors, iPads and delivery services, this mom-and-pop hole-in-the-wall is a blast from the past.
When we entered, we saw a white-haired woman, one of the owners, with her head on the counter. I thought she might be sleeping, but she was just resting, no doubt a little tired from the hot weather. The menu is posted on the wall, along with a sheet listing the daily specials.
Plates come with rice, chow mein and a vegetable. My husband opted for a one meat lunch plate, selecting the fried mackerel. In addition, he was given a bonus item of mapo tofu.
She even included a free soup with both of our meals. The soup definitely had that homemade flavor, rich with chicken and vegetables.
My two meat meal was enormous and could have easily fed two people. Since they were sold out of the pork katsu, I got the teriyaki chicken and the chicken katsu. The teriyaki sauce was a little on the bland side – on a positive note, this probably meant there was no MSG and the portion was dark meat, moist and tender. The katsu unfortunately was not too crispy, unlike the mackerel, but once I dipped it in the sauce, it didn’t matter.
While the crowds may be massing a couple of blocks down the street, they’re missing out on this neighborhood gem. If you go to Sawtelle Tempura House, you’ll not only support a local family-owned business, but you’ll get something you won’t get at the other places – a home-cooked meal from the Japanese grandparents you never had.
Location – 1816 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles 90025
Website – none
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes