12/14/2011 02:19 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Shiro Kuro -- A Tokyo-style Gastro-pub on the Sunset Strip

miko head shot

Miko has opened a Tokyo-style Japanese gastro-pub on the Sunset Strip!

Sounds like a strange idea, but somehow it is working and prospering, thanks to a charming woman named Miko who came here about a year ago and decided to open a hip dining-and-drinking spot next to The Roxy, The Whiskey and Rainbow, directly across the street from the Hustler store. Shiro Kiro (8917 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood (424) 288-4499, valet parking) means Black and White in Japanese, and it describes the décor of this fun, hip little room, a hideout for the Entourage crowd of young Hollywoodians. Miko was a computer entrepreneur who decided that she wanted to make the move to L.A., and researched thoroughly to determine the best concept and location for it. My friend Larry Gordon has been lunching here several times a week and raves about the food. "At lunch you can enjoy a Teishoku $8 special of a main dish with miso soup and rice! Dumplings, fried chicken, pumpkin croquette, hamburger steak, salmon." He went on, "There's $12 Donburi (rice bowl) with tuna avocado, spicy tuna avocado or my favorite, Loco Moco (Hawaiian signature dish of beef patty and fried egg over rice with gravy), and a $3 dessert."

fried tofu

Fried tofu with meat sauce is delicious!

So I have visited several times in early evenings to sample the menu created by Chef Chad, a Hawaiian-Japanese native from the Big Island who has worked in some top spots here. He has assembled a small plates/tapas menu of delicious, unique morsels. They offer a nice selection of craft beers, sakes, and boutique wines by the glass and bottle. Miko told me that they are presenting a vast variety of traditional Japanese dishes popular in Tokyo but still unique in the U.S. I began with a Poke Martini ($7.50) which was diced tuna tossed with seaweed salad served in a martini glass. Miko told me that at night the menu represents the casual Otsumami concept of tapas/small plates of exquisite dishes accompanied by sake, beer or wine. I have come to love the food here and could honestly eat at Shiro Kuro several nights a week with ease. Imagine Fried Tofu ($9) with spicy meat sauce, or Pork Belly with Asparagus ($8). Wagyu-wrapped Onigiri ($10), rice wrapped in thinly-sliced wagyu beef, Beef Tofu Meatballs ($8),Yaki Gyoza ($7), your choice of beef or vegetable pan-fried dumplings, Tuna Carpaccio ($9), thinly-sliced tuna with truffle oil. Easy on your purse, absolutely wonderful food... and the chef is constantly devising new dishes which amaze the ever-jaded me. Think of a Mozzarella Kabocha Croquette ($8) alongside a Garden Salad ($7).


Wagyu-wrapped Onigiri.


Tofu meatballs are amazing.

One night I scarfed down an order of Fried Cheese Hanpen ($7). At first I thought it was a fried cheese wonton, but it turned to be a deep-fried fish cake folded over with white cheese and a shiso leaf encrusted with panko (Japanese bread crumbs) which give it an extra-crispy crunch, utterly delectable. Then there is the Dragon Ball ($8); Miko told me that in Japan they often eat takoyaki, which is a ball-shaped pancake stuffed with boiled octopus. Since it is difficult to get fresh octopus here, they decided to venture out with new ingredients... and surprisingly, the combination of kimchi, beef and cheese turned out to be a delicious alternative. It goes superbly with a bottle of Japanese beer. This is not a traditional sushi bar, or a tempura bar, a soba bar, although they have a sushi menu of rolls and balls at incredibly low prices. Tuna roll, $4.50, California Roll, $5.50. I love picking items off the Shime menu of rice and noodles. Pork soy tonkotsu ramen ($9) and taco rice ($9). There is even an Omakase menu worth selecting.


Gyozu dumplings are delicate and tasty.


Mozzarella Pumpkin Croquettes.


Tuna carpaccio is priced affordably.

This startling sophisticated, fun young people's hangout, translated from Tokyo to the Sunset Strip, is a real find. Yes, there are loads of attractive Japanese boys and girls who make it their main hangout, but I was surprised at the celebrities who have discovered it. And now several top chefs are making it a stop on the way to work or after they finish. (They serve 'til 12 midnight every day but Sunday, when closed.) There's something engaging about coming to a warm and welcoming attractive small room with lots of friendly people and staff, getting tasty and inexpensive plates of delicious, unusual food, and watching the time pass as you chill out and cool down. Thank you Miko for bringing your Tokyo smarts to Los Angeles.

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