Straight Outta Shinjuku - Old School, Mom & Pop Japanese Pub with Oden! SHOYA [Review + Pics]


no choice - Shoya uses only one broth - the Tokyo style

for a microsecond


I have only been to Shoya once (Summer 2016) and I really enjoyed it.
Having lived in Tokyo, it is difficult to shell out ~$85pp for oden/izakaya, but that is just something that I have to get over.

Gyu suji, chikuwa, daikon, and konjac

Strange that she would highlight the lightness of Tokyo dashi. Because Shoya’s dashi, and Tokyo dashi generally, are considered relatively stronger/richer/saltier. Especially compared with Kansai dashi.
Tokyo dashi is usually made with a koikuchi (rich) soy sauce and , whereas Kansai dashi is made with usukuchi (light) soy sauce. (The types of dried fish added to the dashi also vary.) The general trend is the colder the location, the darker/richer the dashi.

I prefer Kansai dashi, as it allows the ingredients to shine through a bit more.
Torihei had a lighter dashi than Shoya last time I was there.
That said, Shoya’s oden is as good as your are going to get in LA at this time.

Pro Tip
Enjoy a sweet potato shochu oyuwari (mixed ~50/50 with hot water) after (or during) your meal.
Close your eyes, waft the aroma, notice the slight smokiness, imagine freshly baked sweet potatoes served from the back of a truck, hear the endless calls of “yaki-imooo”, and be transported for a moment to a warm izakaya on a chilly Japanese night.


Eihire is a must-order for me. Especially when I see it on a menu in LA.

An excellent dish to accompany your first beer after finishing work for the week. Make sure to eat it before it cools and hardens!


I am sure I got it mixed up and she was saying it as you did.


Hi @Starchtrade,

Thanks for your report and tips as well. :slight_smile: Yah, we all thought Torihei’s dashi was lighter, and felt Shoya’s was a richer / stronger taste (but still great!).

Thanks for the recommendation on sweet potato shochu. Is there a brand of shochu at Shoya that you’d recommend? Thanks!


For starters, you can’t go wrong with Kuro Shiranami or Kuro Kirishima (JP Site).

Oh, and in Japan, please remember: no matter what the U.S. bottle says*, it is shochu not soju.
This is not a pedantic pet peeve. Honkaku shochu, like the two examples above, is distilled once–preserving more characteristics of the original ingredients.
Soju is shochu’s Korean cousin. It is usually multiple-distilled utilitarian swill.

*Japanese shochu must be labeled “soju” and be 24% ABV or less in order to be served on beer & wine licenses.


if you’ll indulge me, because the answers here can be more interesting
and entertaining than just googling something:

is “oden” the stuff sumo wrestlers in japan eat at their academies
when training? i vaguely recall reading they subsist mainly on some sort of concotion
that sounds like the oden you describe.

many thanks.


That would be a tybe of nabemono


Chanko is what I had for breakfast with the wrestlers when I visited a Sumo Dojo.


@CiaoBob is correct. Sumo wrestlers eat chanko nabe.

Anthony Bourdain has a segment on chanko nabe in the very first episode of “A Cook’s Tour”. Available on Netflix.
In Tokyo, go to Ryōgoku to enjoy authentic chanko nabe.
In LA there is Shin-Sen-Gumi Chanko in Gardena. (I have not been there.) Anywhere else serving chanko?

Additional: Check our out Popeye craft beer bar while you are in Ryōgoku. For the last seven years craft beer bars have been sprouting up all over the city in response to growing demand. However, Popeye has been open since 1985.


Interesting! Do you own that shop or work in the industry?


Sorry. Typo. No relation.


thanks again u people for all the info.

quick quetion then im done hijacking:
does chanko nabe taste great or is it just more filling?
do non-sumo seek it out and eat it in restaurants.

more thanks.


It depends who is making it. It usually consists of several different proteins.

Chanko nabe is a highly-personalized dish.
Sumo wrestlers belong to a heya, or stable.
The stable members take turns performing the chores.
One of these chores is making the chanko.
Each wrestler may add a bit of their individual touch to the nabe.

Yes. Evidenced by numerous chanko restaurants in Ryōgoku.
Chanko is probably “sought after” less often than other types of nabe. Mizutaki, motsu, etc.


@Starchtrade: you should post more often! I’m learning a lot. :slight_smile: Although I won’t remember much of it b/c that’s the way my brain works. :frowning:


Thank you, @paranoidgarliclover. I only found this site recently and look forward contributing more.


thanks so much for the info.


The one I had was fantastic. Quite a lot to eat for breakfast, if you haven’t spent the last few hours fighting with men who weigh 300 lbs.



It had been too long since our last visit to Shoya. I started feeling nostalgic, wistful and knew it must be Shoya calling. :wink:

Walking in this evening, we were the first party to arrive, and were warmly greeted by literally one-half of the entire restaurant staff - Natsuki Takahashi-san - who is one half of the mom-and-pop shop duo that runs this little Japanese Pub. Toshi-san was in the back already prepping.

Just watching Natsuko-san preparing a simple pot of Tea for our party, was somehow calming and relaxing (and it was a good quality Tea):

Karatamba - Honjozo Sake (Hyogo, Japan):

Shoya has a small Sake menu, so this time we opted to try their Karatamba Sake. There is an initial alcohol note, but it quickly dissipates into a surprisingly round taste, and a very dry finish, clean and crisp! :slight_smile: @beefnoguy I forgot to ask if they have a corkage fee, but having to stick with only their Sake Menu, the Karatamba was fine.

It surprisingly turned more fruity and an almost light sweetness as the Sake got closer to room temperature as the evening went on (but still with a great dry finish).

Oden Round 1, Daikon & Yaki-Tofu:

The Poached Daikon Radish in their Oden Broth was as satisfying as last time. Cooked to a pleasing, soft consistency, it soaked up their Housemade Oden Broth which made each bite that much more satisfying. :slight_smile:

Yaki Tofu:

Their Grilled Tofu is then poached in the Oden Broth and is even more enjoyable, slightly silken, with the Oden Broth permeating the entire chunk of Tofu.

Shoya Salad:

Their Shoya Salad is a Mixed Green Salad, with bits of Cucumber, Tomatoes and Corn mixed in, along with a Housemade Miso-Mayo Dressing. This was OK, but a nice way to get some greens in for dinner. :wink: Looking forward in trying their Seaweed Salad next time.

Sanma no Tsumire (Homemade Fishball):

Another of their Oden offerings, listed simply as “Homemade Fishball,” Toshi-san takes Pacific Saury Fish as a base and creates a finely ground, surprisingly meaty, but so tender Poached Fishball, lighter than any typical kind of “Meatball” we might find around town. Delicious. :slight_smile:

Kinchaku - Special Kinchaku with Whitefish & Tofu:

Their Homemade Tofu and Whitefish “pouch” is stuffed with Ground Chicken and Mushrooms, and then poached in their Oden Broth. It is as light, fluffy and delicious as last time! :blush:

Potato Salad:

Seeing this 2-person duo offer up a Potato Salad, I knew I had to order it, remembering @bulavinaka’s quest for finding great Potato Salad in the city. :slight_smile:

This is a great Potato Salad: Creamy (but not heavy), slightly rustic mashed chunks of Potato, with a hint of Wasabi. It is refreshing, bright and so good! @bulavinaka let us know what you think of Natsuko-san and Toshi-san’s Potato Salad if you get to trying it. :slight_smile:

Atsuage (Fried Tofu):

Shoya also serves an Atsuage Small Plates dish, with the Tofu being fried and then grilled. It is smoky, but eaten with a bit of the fresh-grated Ginger, Green Onions and a bit of the Daikon Oroshi, and it is excellent! Especially with the Karatamba Sake (or some Steamed Rice). :wink:

Kakuni (Sweet & Tender Pork):

In one of the rare cases of non-descriptive English names on the menu, I skipped over this menu item, until our friend from Tokyo mentioned that in Japanese it was “Kakuni” (as in Buta no Kakuni), the classic Japanese Izakaya dish of long-stewed Pork Belly. OK, must order! :smile:

Shoya’s version of Kakuni is actually true to the English name: It is a touch on the sweeter side, but still very savory, tasting of a long-stewed Shoyu and Mirin base. There are a couple pieces that are a bit dryish, but most of the pieces were tender and succulent. :slight_smile:

Currently, I think Aburiya Raku’s version is our favorite, but Shoya has a respectable version if you’re in the mood and dining here. I loved the use of Quail Eggs (instead of just 1 Hard Boiled Chicken Egg), which were softer, more tender in the yolk and matched better.

Shishamo - Fried Smelt Fish:

As perfectly crisped and delicious as last time: The Fried Smelt Fish were briny, smoky and had some Roe as well. :slight_smile: Another great pairing with the Karatamba Sake.

Kara-age Nanbanzuke (Fried Chicken Prepared Nanbanzuke-Style):

Part of their Daily Specials on this evening, this turned out to be one of the only misses we had for dinner, unfortunately. They take chunks of Chicken and prepare it in a classic Kara-age / Japanese Fried Chicken style. After that, they marinate it in a Vinegar-based Sauce.

What threw me for a loop was that this was a chilled dish(!). I was totally thinking that this was going to be a crispy, hot Japanese Fried Chicken dish and maybe quickly sauteed with Vinegar and other flavors. Looking beyond the disconnect, it’s just sad (for me personally) that crispy Fried Chicken is then turned soggy by marinating it in a Nanbanzuke-style Sauce and chilled. The textures just didn’t work for me. :frowning:

Dashimaki (Omelette):

Having recently enjoyed the phenomenal Tamagoyaki (Rolled Egg Omelette) at Wadatsumi, we wanted to see how Toshi-san’s version turned out.

Wow! This is a fluffy, juicy(!) Rolled Egg Omelette, infused with a Housemade Dashi, so it’s far less sweet than the Tamagoyaki at Wadatsumi and Otafuku (both of which are still fantastic). :slight_smile:

Definitely a must-order! :heart:

Ebi Arashioyaki (Grilled Shrimp with Sea Salt):

The Shrimp are grilled with Sea Salt, with the shells crisped and grilled long enough that it becomes brittle (so you can eat the Shrimp with the shell if you want). There is a nice briny, smokiness, and it is quite appealing with Sake or their excellent Steamed Rice. :slight_smile:

Jidori Shio Kojiyaki (Grilled Wild Chicken):

I had to order their Grilled Wild Chicken again, as it was the highlight from our last visit. As before, what makes this Jidori Chicken stand out is not only an excellent grilling, keeping the Chicken nice and moist and lightly smoky, but it’s that Toshi-san marinates the Jidori Chicken with Koji (used in fermenting a variety of items like Sake and Soy Sauce, etc.). It brings out a real, crave-worthy taste to each bite. So good! :heart:

Yasai Itame (Pan-Fried Vegetables):

This was a simple dish, nothing really spectacular, but also something that just fit this little mom-and-pop shop: A quick stir-fry of Cabbage, Carrots, Enoki Mushrooms and Bok Choy, but tossed in a Rice Vinegar-based Sauce, the subtle tartness was great with a chilled Beer or Sake. :slight_smile:

Kanpachi Kama - Grilled Greater Amberjack Collar:

Another of the Daily Specials, it looks like we were lucky enough to have the Kanpachi Fish appear again just as we were visiting again. :smile:

Absolutely perfectly grilled Kanpachi Collar, it is moist, flaky, succulent, and lightly seasoned. Outstanding! :heart:

Yaki Tarako Omusubi (Cod Roe Riceball):

I made it a point to quickly eat this as it arrived, to see how the Nori (Seaweed) would turn out. It wasn’t as crisp as our first visit, but the top edges of the Seaweed wrapper were still crisped, but the bottom where most of the Rice was touching, was soft, like @CiaoBob’s visit.

However, the Yaki Tarako (Grilled Cod Roe) was an excellent match here: Burst of briny salinity from the Grilled Cod Roe, diluted perfectly by the wonderful, plump, fluffy Steamed Rice. @TheCookie this is another example of a Japanese restaurant that takes pride in their Steamed Rice (like Wadatsumi). :slight_smile:

Anago Meshi (Teriyaki Eel Bowl):

This is Grilled Sea Eel (Anago) marinated in a Housemade “Teriyaki” Sauce, having the sweetness associated with “Teriyaki” but it’s different than what one might expect. The Anago was quite tasty, and the excellent Steamed Rice really elevated this dish.

Dashi Chazuke with Salmon:

Listed on the menu simply as “Dashi Chazuke,” this is Shoya’s version of the heartwarming dish “Ochazuke,” a sort of Rice Porridge dish made of Steamed Rice steeped in a hot Green Tea. Here, Toshi-san uses his Housemade Dashi Broth instead, and provides more savoriness and flavor.

It is comforting and a great way to finish our meal. :slight_smile:

Shoya continues to be a charming little mom-and-pop Izakaya serving Oden on the side. While its dishes collectively might not surpass places like Aburiya Raku, it makes up for it in its warm, comfortable atmosphere, of being in the hands of Natsuko-san and Toshi-san, a 2 person operation that takes care of their customers from when you enter until when you leave.

But in its simplicity, you might find some stellar dishes like the Jidori Shio Kojiyaki (Grilled Wild Chicken), Takowasa (Octopus and Wasabi), Atsuage Oden (Homemade Whitefish & Tofu Poached in Oden Broth), or Dashimaki (Rolled Egg Omelette).

Or just enjoy sitting relaxed in a humble 9-seat restaurant listening to an old-school Japanese soundtrack that reminds my friend of being back in Shinjuku, whiling away the late night hours.

(Reservations Only - Because it’s so small.)

1920 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Lomita, CA 90717
Tel: (310) 534-3319


GI m now craving fried smelt. :slight_smile:

You mention oden broth several times. I thought oden was a winter stew-type dish. What is oden broth?