Rewinding back to the day my friends, Jen and Rosie, and I drove all the way to LA from San Francisco Bay Area, memories of eating at Shojin Restaurant and meeting @veganfoodshare and @yvonne_deliciously_vegan come to my mind.
These moments make me smile-and hungry.
333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310 Los Angeles
(Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F)
Aside from the amazing vegan Japanese cuisine, Shojin also excelled in ambiance and service. The overall experience was one I would never forget.
Shojin has two locations but my friends and I went to the one in downtown LA (in Little Tokyo). I thought it was odd for a fine dining restaurant to be inside a mall but it actually added a bit of character to the place.
I was expecting to see all kinds of shoppers and commercial stands surrounding me as I dine but as soon as I entered Shojin, I was transcended to a whole new place: a dimly lit, solemn restaurant. It felt like a time warp.
From the pictures below, it looked like we ordered the whole left side of the menu, but actually, we also ordered the whole right side of the menu- just kidding! We did order alot for the six of us there, but when you’re at Shojin, over-ordering tends to happen.
I remember it took us what must have been at least 15 minutes of deciding, going back and forth, with what to order. The menu was quite extensive with tons delicious sounding sushi. In the end, we let @veganfoodshare order for us with everybody’s suggestions in mind.
For appetizers, we ordered the Shojin’s Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms, Seitan Strips, and Pumpkin Croquette. My favorite out of the three was the Pumpkin Croquette because of the texture and nice flavor; it was something I never had before.
Shojin’s Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms
Shojin’s BBQ seitan
Shojin’s Pumpkin Croquette
On to the main course, sushi!
The sushi rolls already had some sort of sauce or cream in them so we didn’t need any soy sauce at all.
My favorite was the Yellow Magic Orchestra because it had all kinds of texture that complement each other, it was three entrees rolled into one- literally. Yellow Magic Orchestra was gluten free, onion-garlic free, and sesame free. It had “Pumpkin tempura and curry spiced tempeh on a vegetable roll with sweet soy and mustard sauce”.
Shojin Yellow Magic Orchestra
Unlike the Yellow Magic Orchestra, the Shojin Rocky Mountain was chewier and less crunchy, good on its own right. It was also gluten free and onion and garlic free and had “Tempura shiitake mushrooms on a green vegetable roll with sweet soy and wasabi-mayo”.
Shojin Rocky Mountain
The Shojin Dynamite Roll was so good we had to order another one. It was gluten free and had “Spicy tofu and avocado roll, with slightly torched spicy mayo served with spicy dynamite sauce”.
Shojin Dynamite Roll
I like that Shojin also uses seitan or wheat protein in their sushi rolls including in the Crunchy Tiger Hidden Dragon roll. It had “BBQ seitan, tempura asparagus, avocado, crunchy tempura batter, wasabi-mayo, sweet soy sauce”. Obviously, this one was not gluten-free because it had seitan.
Shojin Crunchy Tiger Hidden Dragon
Instead of serving sushi ginger on the side to cleanse your palate, Shojin put it on top of the sushi and featured the ginger as the highlight of its Gingeronimo roll.
Gingeronimo had :” ginger, vegetable “sole” filet, shiso, and plum vinegar sauce”. The result tasted savory, slightly sweet, and refreshing yet spicy.
Shojin’s waiting staff was polite, prompt, and very attentive. When it came to ordering the Baked “Scallop” Roll, one of the lovely servers came out with a small torch and torched the rolls on our table. This part provided such a nice show that enhanced our dining experience even further. Of course, all of our cell phones were out to document the torching.
The Baked “Scallop” Roll was wonderfully spicy and chewy. It was gluten free and had “Mushrooms and onions on a spicy tofu roll with spicy mayo and dynamite sauce”.
Shojin Baked “Scallop” Roll
If there’s one thing that tasted just “okay” to me, I’d have to go with the Shojin 2.0. I would have probably enjoyed Shojin 2.0 if it didn’t have sauce and if I dipped the rolls in soy sauce because after wowing our palates with all kinds of interesting flavors from the other rolls, Shojini 2.0 felt a bit flat.
Believe it or not, we still had room for dessert. Granted we ordered only two desserts for everyone to share.
We got the Shojin Cheesecake and the Raspberry Chocolate Cake. Shojin played its desserts on the safe side and stuck to simple presentation and simple flavors that brought us delight. Without the pizzaz of the specialty sushi rolls, I still found the dessert a nice, sweet note to end the meal.
Shojin Raspberry Chocolate Cake
You could just imagine the server’s face when he saw a horse head as he clicked the camera. Why the horse head?
My friends and I were trying to convince @veganfoodshare to reveal his face to the public, but @veganfoodshare stood on his ground and stuck to the mask. Why? He said he didn’t want to disclose his identity because his IG account is not about him but about the vegan food he curates and it’ll be better to keep the account anonymous. Makes sense.
And oh, that’s the lovely Ms. Yvonne from @Yvonne_deliciously_vegan at the left end table with her long hair down and arm leaning on the table.
Overall it was a memorable dining experience with great company of dear friends. Now if only, Shojin also has a location in San Francisco. Sigh, a girl could dream.
Also check out:
Part 2: Vegan Finds in LA: Real Food Daily, Seed Kitchen, Viva La Vegan Grocery
Part 1: Vegan Finds in LA: Donut Friend and Crossroads