REVIEW: Takasan offers quick, cheap and delicious rice bowls

You’ve had sushi. You’ve tried ramen. Next, get a taste of the classic Japanese dish donburi. Takasan Japanese Bowls, a new restaurant located in Downtown Los Angeles, opened on Jan. 7 and specializes in donburi, or traditional Japanese rice bowls often layered with chicken or beef. A variety of meat, toppings and seasonal ingredients give each bowl a unique flavor.

Founded by Tucker Iida, a graduate of Cornell University, Takasan prides itself on omotenashi, the traditional practice of “hospitality” that caters to each customer. Indeed, the fast-casual eatery provides a comfortable, welcoming Japanese dining experience amid the bustle of the city.

From fried chicken and spicy tuna to ribeye steak, Takasan has something for everyone. Upon entering, customers are immediately greeted with a simple but well-stocked menu, and the prompt attention of the service staff. Ordering at the counter is easy: pick an entree and pick a base. The main menu offers eight signature rice bowls, which can be customized with white rice, brown rice or salad. From there, customers can choose to eat inside or at the small outdoor patio.

Sauce Katsu-Don and Yakiniku-Don have quickly become top sellers. Sauce Katsu-Don combines salty and sweet with crispy fried chicken, Japanese mayonnaise and classic katsu sauce. For those craving a twist on traditional flavors, the Yakiniku-Don has sliced ribeye steak, onion, egg and sweet-spicy sauce. Nasu-Don, a vegetarian option, comes with roasted eggplant, sweet soy glaze, seaweed salad, shiitake mushrooms and cabbage.

Takasan specialises in donburi, traditional Japanese bowls. Photo from Yelp.

Classic Japanese menu items such as Katsu Curry-Don and Chicken Teriyaki-Don are also available at affordable prices. Optional side dishes of Karaage fried chicken, edamame and spicy tuna on crispy rice complete the meal, leaving customers with happy, full stomachs. As for beverages, Boxed Water and Japanese soft drinks Ramune and Calpis are just a few of the diverse options.

The clean-cut interior reflects both the efficient service and the simplicity of the Japanese rice bowls. A Japanese tapestry provides a picturesque backdrop, while modern hanging lights give the space a more modern ambience. Succulents, which seem to be prevalent at every contemporary eatery in Los Angeles, are tucked in a small shelf along the wall. Altogether, the minimalistic decor of Takasan allows customers to better appreciate the modest but savory donburi and friendly company at a wooden Zen industrial community table.

Takasan has figured out how to make the old seem new, and less than a month after opening, the restaurant already has a steady stream of customers coming in to try its most popular dish. And although the current menu is rather small, there are enough options to entice customers to return and try something new. According to the menu, Takasan is expanding to include a variety of drinks, desserts and even more donburi.

If Takasan continues its outstanding customer service and expands its menu, the place will surely be packed before long. With the help of Takasan, donburi is certainly poised to take over as the next millennial food craze.

The low prices make Takasan an attractive fast-food place for college students. Iida remarked that many USC students have already stopped by for a meal at the restaurant, which is located only a few miles from campus. With prices that never exceed $12, Takasan has the potential to be a hotspot for Trojans seeking a quick, cheap and satisfying meal.