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Restaurant AOI


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AOI Restaurant is a small Japanese restaurant located in Little Tokyo near Downtown Los Angeles. It serves the traditional Japanese fare, like teriyaki, sukiyaki, tempura, sushi, ramen, etc. It's primarily well-known among people who work in the area who take advantage of their lunch specials.

Speaking of which, the most popular lunch specials is the "B Lunch." The B Lunch features teriyaki chicken, shrimp and vegetable tempura, sunomuno, rice, salad and miso soup. In my opinion, AOI has the best tempura downtown. The batter is light and crisp, and the vegetables are not overcooked. The teriyaki is also very tasty as well. The teriyaki chicken is good, some of the time. Sometimes, it tends to be overcooked and dry; other times you taste the charcoal that comes from burning the edges. There have been a few times when I've actually noticed that the chicken was cooked nicely. The teriyaki sauce is good, not too sweet nor salty. The miso soup is great; they don't add seaweed in it (I don't like seaweed), but they do add some nice pieces of tofu - yummy. The salad is comprised of iceberg lettuce, cabbage and shredded carrots served with their house dressing, which is never enough.

Also available is something called the No. 2 Plate, which includes teriyaki steak, shrimp and veggie tempura, rice, salad and miso soup. It is a generous portion of steak which is cooked well. There are also more tempura pieces to enjoy.

On one of our visits, we ordered the gyoza as an appetizer. We were served with six pieces of pan-fried dumplings. They also included a bottle of sesame oil, which we mixed with soy sauce. The gyoza were delectable, nice combination of ground pork with vegetables.

Overall, Restaurant AOI is a great place for a tempura/teriyaki lunch combo at a relatively reasonable price. Lunch specials start at $8.95.