Little Tokyo advertises itself as authentic Japanese cooking in the town of Goose Creek, South Carolina. This wasn't the first time I've been to this quaint little restaurant, and it isn't the last! I find myself coming here probably once a month and they've never had a dish I didn't like.
Just the other night, I came in with three other people. The atmosphere is pretty much what you would expect from a Japanese restaurant (In the states). The decor follows suit with the theme of the food; paper lamps, Japanese style paintings, wooden floors- the usual decorations. It's never really loud and usually there is ambient music playing very softly. It's a nice place to sit down and eat without a lot of commotion.
Service starts off with hand out menus and taking orders for drinks. I, of course, had the Strawberry Calpis (Calpico). If you aren't familiar with the drink, I suggest trying out one of them. It's a non-carbonated 'soda' drink. It's slightly milky in flavor and texture and is close to drinking a fruit drink. I heard someone once describe it as 'a drink you would find in your grandmother's fridge.' I think that pretty much sums it up. Strawberry Calpis is one of my very favorite drinks, though the regular flavor is great as well. I would recommend having the regular flavor first if you have not tried it before as it is the basic taste of every flavor.
The server then brings out fresh, hot towels for each guest. This is meant to wash your hands and face with, much like we are taught to do as kids with a sink. After you are finished, they will return to take the towels and proceed with allowing you to order.
Little Tokyo's menus are pretty solid. You can order a small meal, or a huge meal and the menu is the same for lunch and dinner. If you don't know the basics of the names of their food and want a description, I recommend you ask the server or study up before going. It's not a terrible thing and I know my way around the names of food enough to understand what katsu, yakitori, and donburi means for my plate.
This time around, I ordered the rib-eye steak teriyaki. I'm a sucker for teriyaki dishes with it being one of my favorite sauces. I'm also a huge fan of steak. The dish comes with a clear soup and rice. Soup comes out before the meal so you have something while you're waiting, kind of like a salad at an American restaurant. We also ordered the Gyoza, which came out in a timely fashion as it was our appetizer. They were beautifully pan-seared with a layer of crispy goodness on one side. The sauce served with it was really nice as well. Our party enjoyed them, which is a compliment since half of the party has actually been to Japan and swear by their food.
If you're familiar with the Japanese way of food service, you know that they bring the plate to you when it's ready so it's hot and fresh. This means that not everyone gets their meal at the same time. This way of thinking makes more sense to me, but others don't like it and prefer the western way of getting their food at the same time so they can eat together. Little Tokyo follows the eastern tradition, ensuring that your food is indeed hot (if it's supposed to be.) and fresh.
My food came out fresh and delicious. The clear soup was great. The steak was cooked rare as I asked for, which a lot of places screw up (somehow they don't see a tiny, peppy girl like me eating a big rare steak at most restaurants.) It was tender and juicy and the teriyaki added that extra oomph I like to it. I was thoroughly satisfied with my meal. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their plates as well, though they ordered different items from me.
To top it off, I had my usual desert there- Tempura ice cream. It's tempura friend banana with vanilla ice cream. It's perfect for people who like opposites in food. The banana is always really hot and the ice cream is freezing so it stirs up a party in your mouth!
So here are my scores for Little Tokyo:
Service: 9/10 (The service was really great, despite a few minutes of extra waiting.)
Atmosphere: 8/10 (Pretty usual.)
Price: 10/10 (The prices are really reasonable here.)
- Food Taste: 9/10 (The steak was excellent and so was the sauce.)
- Food Presentation: 7/10 (It's pretty much what you'd expect from a local Japanese restaurant.)
Final words on the place: If you're in the area and in the mood for some Japanese food, it's the place to go. It's definitely worth the price and the trip. I recommend it!