Do Morinoya first before dismissing the aburiya scene in L.A. altogether.
Morinoya chef Mori-san was working his aburiya magic at Place Yuu on Sawtelle, serving a loyal (mostly Japanese clientele) before Raku even got off the ground in Las Vegas. Once Seoul Tofu took over that space, he opened the more cozy Morinoya in the Olympic Collection down the street. I call Mori-san the Godfather of late-night L.A. Japanese dining.
Sure, no foie gras on the menu at Morinoya, but the traditional grilled ayu & shisyamo, as well as the matsutake dobin mushi are second to none. The way I see it, Raku L.A. doesn’t get a free pass from me just because of its pedigree from Vegas (and yes, I’ve eaten at Raku Vegas on several occasions). Rather, Raku L.A. has to work itself up to earn the respect I hold for Morinoya.
I should be trying Raku soon. Will report back. (Wanna hit it with me, CiaoBob?)