Tucked away on the third floor of an indoor mall in Little Tokyo is Shojin, a restaurant swathed in heavy curtains at the entrance. Behind this unremarkable front is home to an intimate fine-dining experience serving a hybrid of vegan-Japanese cuisine pioneered by owner Tsuguhiro.
Shojin is an immersion into an experiential cuisine, serving up a moment of dining that interrupts the senses with a welcome ease; the effortless blend of servers who sweep you inside like their most distinguished guest creates an experience that is buoyant with the energy of devotion to its patrons.
Most Americans aren’t familiar with shōjin ryōri (devotion cuisine), the vegan or vegetarian Buddhist diet eaten in Japan from which Shojin derives its name and philosophy from. This cuisine aims to purify the body and mind through a vegetarian lifestyle.
Which is why the flavors at Shojin are thoughtfully curated to flatter the organic produce, creating pairings that are deliciously inventive; from the tempeh and avocado roll with soft, fried eggplant lightly drizzled with sweet miso, to the pan-fried seitan generously seasoned with garlic, tamari, and soy sauce, the menu is filled with mouthwatering offerings of pure devotion.
Though it is a departure from the meat-and-fish intensive fare that has taken over Los Angeles by storm, what you will experience at Shojin allows you to taste, see, and feel their commitment to the possibility of cultivating a cuisine that not only nourishes, but also sustains.
Alyse Gilbert & Val Blakely