Little Tokyo has long been a dining destination for the simple fact that it houses ramen favorite Daikokuya. This week, it has a new neighbor that might be able to do more than just fill the bellies of disappointed diners unwilling to wait in an hour line for Daikokuya. On Monday, Chef Hiro Fujita and Michael Cardenas, founder of Innovative Dining Group debuted the curry and pasta concept Fat Spoon. Now you can satisfy your craving for Japanese food with ramen at Daikokuya, curry at Fat Spoon, and tapas at Izakaya Fu-ga, all before walking over to grab a flight of Japanese beer at Far Bar.
I didn’t realize just how popular pasta and curry was until my recent two week trip to Japan. It seemed like you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into chain restaurant Curry House CoCo Ichibanya or another fast food joint drizzling curry over hot dogs and flatbread. If I had a pasta craving, that was an easy craving to satisfy as well.
If you’re fortunate enough to arrive and find an empty table, you’ll be warmly greeted with “irasshaimase.” Otherwise, write your name on the waitlist and join the Daikokuya crowd in loitering outside. If you are like me and can’t resist little corn dogs, Fat Spoon serves a pretty good version with a flavorful and slightly sweet curry ketchup (even though the menu advertises mustard). It wasn’t quite as good as Stefan at LA Farm’s version, but I still recommend them.
For sides, I went with the sauteed spinach and crunchy garlic bread. They were fine but next time I’d probably skip these two and try the sauteed mixed mushrooms. The real reason to go to Fat Spoon, however, is the curry. Curry options include: pork cutlet, seafood, jidori chicken, beef short ribs, or vegetables. I went with the pork cutlet because I had a great reference point after trying the famous pork tonkatsu at Maisen in Harajuku, Tokyo. This was a great version and a steal at only $10. The crispy fried kurobuta pork loin was good on its own, but much better when drizzled with the curry sauce (and best when drowned in the sauce). I’m excited to go back and try the short rib curry and vegetable curry.
Fat Spoon’s other specialty is pasta. I went with the carbonara, but should have trusted my gut and gone with something more unique like the tarako with salted cod roe, cream, dried seaweed, and shiso leaf. The carbonara was a traditional, straight-forward take on the classic and I was a little bored by it. I appreciated the texture of the noodles and there was a good amount of pancetta, but next time I’ll either stick with the curry or try a less-traditional pasta. You can’t blame Fat Spoon for doing a traditional take on the pasta, but I guess I was expecting something a bit more interesting.
I was tempted to order a salad, but once I noticed a “curry pan” to-go on the back of the menu, I knew that it had to try it. It ended up being the best item of the night. Since I was in a hurry to catch the Holy F*ck comedy show, they bagged it to go and I was in street food heaven. It was fried, filled with rich curry, and piping hot. Best $2 I’ve spent on food in a long time.
I did get a bit frustrated with the slow service and them sending one of my dishes to the wrong table, but they are new and hopefully they’ll iron that out. It’s one of the prices you pay for trying a new and exciting restaurant and why I tend to wait until a restaurant is at least a month old. Overall, Fat Spoon is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and I’m glad to have a new go-to place for well-priced traditional Japanese curry.
329 E 1st St.
Los Angeles – Little Tokyo
Sunday- Thursday 11 am-11 pm, Friday-Saturday 11 am-midnight.