The Little Tokyo Café

Licensing

The Little Tokyo Café is a small, family run restaurant that is located on N. San Pedro St. Its owner, Mitsuko Minohara, is a second generation Japanese immigrant whose mother began the restaurant in the late 20’s. Mitsuko works alongside her husband, youngest son, sister-in-law and her mother’s friend Yumi-san. Despite having changed locations three times, the café’s ownership and staff has remained within the family. The restaurant offers a traditional Japanese style menu including such dishes as katsu, udon, and unagi. However, their most famous dish is a combination of charsiu and shumai. The secret family recipe goes back to Mitsuko’s uncle and although it has undergone some changes, the basis of the recipe remains the same. Despite the difficulties that other stores and restaurants on 2nd street have faced, the Little Tokyo Café continues to thrive.

Slides in this album 

Front of the Café

After changing locations twice, the Little Tokyo Café has made its new home on N. San Pedro St. right next door to the Union Center for the Arts, which features the East West players.

Front of the Café
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Interior of the Café

When first entering the Little Tokyo Café, one gets a sense of the humble and traditional lifestyle that the owner of the café, Mitsuko Minohara, and her family participate in.

Cafe Entrance
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Café Wall - Sammy Davis Jr. Photograph

Mitsuko recalled Sammy Davis Jr. visiting the old store at 2nd and San Pedro. Mitsuko’s mother met Sammy at a furrier where he was having a fur coat made. They became friends and he visited her restaurant occasionally. Mitsuko stated that “he was quite nice.”

Sammy Davis Jr. on Restaurant Wall
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Café Wall - Old Café Painting

When the war came to an end, Mistuko’s parents decided to move to Los Angeles. After the family returned from Manzanar, Mitsuko’s mother opened the Tokyo café at 2nd and San Pedro. Mitsuko proudly displays a painting of the original store located at 2nd and San Pedro.

Painting of Original Location
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Café Wall - East West Players

The café is located next to the play house that features the East West Players whose photos are proudly displayed on the café’s walls. Mitsuko stated that the café used to be open later when the play house had a show in the evening. She believes they may start doing …

Pictures of the East West Players
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Outdoor Seating

Although the café was originally designed with a v-shaped bar to accommodate single customers, it has since changed into a family style restaurant that includes indoor and outdoor tables.

Outdoor Seating
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Charsiu and Shumai Combination

Despite being a traditional Japanese restaurant, the Little Tokyo Café also offers many dishes including Chinese style cooking. Their most famous dish is the combination plate which includes charsiu and shumai.

Charsiu and Shumai
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Mitsuko and Tokiko

Mitsuko Minohara (seated below) is the owner of the Little Tokyo Café and works alongside her husband, youngest son,her mother's friend, Yumi-san, and her sister-in-law, Tokiko Ishi (standing left) who cooks with Mitsuko’s husband.

Mitsuko and Tokiko
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Mitsuko Minohara

Mitsuko describes her cooking as “amateur,” therefore, she leaves the cooking to her husband and Tokiko. As a result, she assumes other restaurant responsibilities including such things as accounting and cleaning.

Mitsuko Minohara
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim

Café Hours

The café is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. because both Mitsuko and her husband are getting older so according to her “there is no pressure” to stay open for longer hours. This is one of the benefits that Mitsuko enjoys by keeping the business within the family. …

Closing the Cafe
Contributed by: Jamal_Fahim


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