Sake Dojo: Revolutionizing Sake with 100 Bottles On Tap
The food scene in DTLA is growing as fast as our skyline is changing. We have new restaurants from mega-star chefs, already mega-star-restaurants opening up second or third locations. In the case of Little Tokyo, this means more fine dining.
The Little Tokyo is filled with hidden gems - unassuming places where the best LA Japanese food can be found. Add in a couple cafes, must-Instagram dessert shops, neighborhood bars, the central plaza, and voila. A relatively small but eccentric neighborhood the one thing it was missing was a higher-end, Japanese fine dining spot, a not-so-hidden-gem: the Sake Dojo.
Owners Mike Gin, Don Tahora, and Enrique Ramirez know the ropes of the business and the neighborhood because it’s their second spot, the first being the locally beloved Far Bar. Given the success of that business, their passion for their neighborhood’s culture, the owners wanted to keep contributing to Little Tokyo.
When they acquired the ground level space of the historic Japanese Hotel Miyako, they made their vision come true: A Sake dedicated bar to educate the masses on the magic of Japanese whiskey, with a fully operating kitchen and sushi bar. They’re serving up some of the most innovative Japanese dishes Little Tokyo has ever seen, plus they’re revolutionizing the sake scene.
The interior was an inspiration straight from Mike’s visits to Japan, clean, clear, artistic. At the entrance, there’s a ripple-effect painted art piece of a koi fish from San Jose tattoo artist Taki Kitamura, Japanese movie posters, color-coordinated fixtures, and ample room to sit. The bar is stocked with nearly 100 different sakes, other fine spirits like Mezcal and Gin, California wines, and Japanese beers.
Changing the game with enomatic wine machines, the Sake Dojo owns 5 of them, to keep their Sake at a top-notch level, on draft, and according to Mike, they’re the only ones in the country to do it. If you’re new to Sake and curious, any one of their flight programs, along with their Sake sommelier (yep), will make a proper introduction.
Their cocktail menu theme is not sake, or Japanese centered, but more related to the entire Northwest Pacific. The same is true for their wine and beer selections which are NOT in short supply.
They truly made use of every inch without overcrowding and managed to leave room for intimate dinners or group gatherings.
Currently open for Lunch, Social Hour, and Dinner, if the goal was fine dining, they’ve achieved it. Chef Richard Naito is the imaginative mind behind the sushi bar and his presentation matches his personality and love for raw cuts.
Chef Ruiz Mateo, who’s a Peruvian-Japanese, that has shaken up the dinner menu at the Sake Dojo with incredible flavors. You can order everything from oysters to robata, sushi, sashimi, or baby back ribs.
We can expect the grand opening in about a month, it should all happen before the annual Nisei Week celebrations in Little Tokyo.
Given the dedication behind the Sake Dojo, the grand opening is the big neighborhood reveal for the Nisei Week, they look forward to being welcomed despite already being so well established in Little Tokyo. Adding the colorful cuisine from Chef Richard and Chef Ruiz to the fine dining aesthetic of their interior, plus the quality of sake - the Dojo is sure to be a hit.
facebook.com/sakedojola | 333 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Written by Mariana Ramos | Photography by Chimera Singer