Shojin Restaurant

A while back, Lane and I read a promising review of Shojin Restaurant on To Live and Eat In LA, a blog about eating vegan in Los Angeles. Since we live in the area, we often peruse her website when we’re looking for someplace new to try; our geographic boundaries overlap a bit. Anyway, we’ve been meaning to try it since they opened in March, but haven’t gotten around to it. That was a mistake.

We started off with the Traditional Vegetable Appetizer. It’s not a fixed plate, but rather based on what they’ve got on hand at the moment. We had some kind of Eggplant, Kale & Mashed Tofu Salad, and Kabocha Pumpkin. We were also comped and okara appetizer, not on the menu. Jane had mentioned that she was interested in trying the okara dishes as we make our own soy and nut milks, and she’d like to make something with the remainder product (okara).

The Kale and Mashed Tofu salad was our favorite of the appetizers we tried. It was light and summery and absolutely delicious. Jane’s next favorite was the Okara, but it was a tad subtle for me. I preferred the Eggplant, followed by the Kabocha Pumpkin. The Kabocha Pumpkin was the weakest of the appetizers, but it wasn’t bad. The others were just that much better.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, when we’re trying out a new restaurant, we like to go during “off” hours. It gives us the opportunity to chat with the waitstaff about the menu, without us feeling like we’re monopolizing their time. Often, we’ll have a chance to talk to the manager too. But what we like most, is that we get to experience the food and ambiance in a leisurely manner.

Our server was delightful. She reviewed the menu with us and we discussed our preferences in eating. She helped us decide on our entrees. I had the Crispy Seitan Cutlet & Assorted Vegetables (top) and Jane the Shojin Original Okara Cake (bottom). We were both thrilled with our dinners.

Jane is not the biggest fan of seitan. She finds it too chewy, just the thing I find most appealing about it. But after tasting my dinner she exclaimed that it was delicious and she’d consider ordering it. Jane’s Okara Cake was reminiscent of crab cakes. She really loved the cakes. They’re served with brown rice porridge, which was interesting, but nowhere near as good as the crab cakes.

Shojin also offers a variety of vegan desserts, but we had no room, so I can’t comment on them, other than to say next time I hope we leave room for either the Green Tea “Moss” Cake with Sweet Azuki Bean or the Blueberry Mousse Tart.

Bottom line: This is an excellent find. If you’re in downtown Los Angeles, you MUST go to this restaurant. The food is wonderful. Everything tasted fresh and delicious. They use organic and natural foods with no chemical additives. Our server mentioned they make all their own condiments! Shojin is hidden on the third floor of the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, so you’re not likely to stumble across it by accident. But it’s well worth making a point of visiting. Your palate will thank you. They’re closed Monday and Tuesday.

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