360 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA | Directions 9001234.047759 -118.240062
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Central LA, Civic Center / Little Tokyo
The best Japanese restaurant that I have been to - without debate - anywhere!!! – There are few restaurants on earth that I would give a 5 star rating to, but Kokekokko may deserve 6, if it was possible.
The low down:
The owner, Tomo-San is a "master" chef, bar-none. His Yakitori is the best that I have had inside or outside of Japan. As a matter of fact, I have never been keen or able to eat gizzard, heart, joints, etc. in any restaurant for any reason. The thought made me a bit ill so I always order the simple stuff. Tomo-San is smart enough to wait until you've had a bit of sake to offer up some of these delicacies and let me tell you - he has converted me. If you watch Tomo-San cook, and run the restaurant, he seems close to Robert DeNiro's character in Casino, with an incredible eye for detail and service. BUT...this is a Japanese restaurant run as if it was in Japan and possibly Japan of 20 years ago. The "attitude" of some of today's Japanese youth in service positions won't be found in Tomo-San's eyeshot although his staff is clearly more than a little intimidated by him. Think "Samurai master" who cooks food and you will understand Tomo-San's mind-set. And thank god for it. The old Japan and the heroes that exemplified it (Takakura-Ken, Fuji Junko, Tsurata Koji) can be found alive and well inside of Tomo-San's eyes and his incredible skill.
His personal treatment of his guests is exceptional. He knows that most of us are clueless as to Japanese etiquette and behavior. So expect to feel a little out of place when you first walk in but you will find that soon, you are put completely at ease.
The food is so good that I find myself dreaming of it. Don't believe me? Walk in and try one of his chicken meatball skewers. And a thigh. And a the wing with Japanese salt. You will freak out. The sake is great of course, especially the frozen Arabashiri which is very reasonable.
This is a great place to bring a girl, or friends, or to come alone.
There's a reason it's busy! – I lived in Japan for 10 years, so very familiar with the food and language.
We went Saturday night, right at 6 (no reservation), so no waiting. Menu lacks explanation, so maybe bone up before coming. Plan on ordering 5 items per person. Most are $2.50, so not bad. Kirin draft (glass) is nice, $4.50. Quality of food is good, looks nice. I always think dark meat is better (juicier), and true here, too. Liver was very good (tender, not dry), and thigh also recommended. Meatballs (Tsukune) and wings were good, as were pickled veggies (Oshinko) and Green soy beans (Edamame). I thought service was fine, but servers are mostly (all?) Japanese, so make sure you understand each other. Nice hot towel (real cloth, not disposable), is a bonus too!
Bottom line: Recommended (just make a reservation or go early), good authentic Japanese food.
And just a friendly suggestion: Japanese food flavor is very understated, so try beer or water (or sake) instead of Coke with it!
Bad service!!!! – The food was not bad but the service was one of the worst. I tried to get the waiter to take my order after 20 minutes. The full order yakitori has appetizer, soup, salad and 10 skewers. I asked the waiter what was the appetizer and he said wait a minute. Then he came back from the kitchen with the appetizer and I didn't even order that. We ordered rice with chicken in addition of the full order and the waiter forgot to give us the rice. After asking for the rice twice, it finally arrived 5 minutes before we finished eating everything. We got the soup about at the same time too. It's impossible to get the waiter's attention. He would disappear to the kitchen and not came back for a long time. I like their salad, soup, appetizer and the liver skewer.
The Best Yakitori in Little Tokyo and L.A – I been going to Kokekokko for 19 years I was there on the First day it open . This food is so fresh that notting is left over to sell to its customers because they sell out everynight. The chicken is very fresh and that's everyday. Yes the service can be slow at times but as you get to know the owner and its staff it will get better. Yes make a res. if you want a table or sit at the counter but if your not there at 7pm you lose the spot. No res after 7pm. The best day's to go are mondays, wednsdays you might get by on thursday but Friday and Saturday look out you will be wait for about 30 to 45 min. Go early if you can.. THe owner Tomo give's his cusstomers a black plate with there names on it. If you want one of these ask Tomo when you sit at the counter. We all buy him a beer now and then and he love's a good wine. So maybe that will help you out. Oh one more little thing I keep some red and green chile from New Mexico there and when I'm there ask me and I'll share some with you. Its a great place to throw a party too. But the food is the Best!!!
Little Tokyo yakitori restaurant offers at least 13 ways of looking at a chicken. – In Short
Named after the Japanese word for a rooster-crowing, the sound that guests are more likely to associate with this establishment is that of chicken sizzling and steaming over an open flame. Whether in the booths along the perimeter of the restaurant, or at the bar surrounding the barbeque pit, a crowd of families and downtown hipsters feasts on skewers comprised of all different parts of the bird, including standard breasts and drumsticks to hearts and gizzards. Mustard, marinade, and other simple flavorings providing zesty accents.
BEST YAKITORI IN L.A. – I've been to Shisengumi and Koshiji (two popular places for yakitori) and neither compares to the quality and taste of Kokekokko. The service could be a little slow sometimes (because the place is always packed) but it's well worth it. Reading some of the reviews just shows me how sometimes people are so ignorant when it comes to dining. To make things clear, when they tell you that you cannot make reservations after 7, it means that after 7 is first come first serve. I know the girl answering the phone is not very fluent in english but it's just common sense. About the ramen (which is not in the menu) You can only order if you order a large soboro. That's the rules of the house. So if you don't like it then don't come. Although I gotta admit people who are regulars can get away with certain things. But that's just the way it is.
The Best Chicken You'll Never Get to Taste – After waiting around for over an hour to be seated (while tables stood empty waiting to be cleared of dirty dishes), it took forever to get our food--and only 2 out of the 3 people in my party got their food! The waiters were impossible to get a hold of--and when we did, they never brought us the things we had requested--like our orders. What little did arrive was delicious, even things I wouldn't normally eat like chicken hearts--but the food was completely spoiled by the lack of service and organization. Hours later, they asked us if we wanted to order more. When we explained that we hadn't even received the food we had ordered, and instead requested the check, for which we waited another 30 minutes until my friend went to the cash register and stood over the guy, who promptly took a sheet of paper from his board and rung us up--after readjusting out bill to take out the 30% of items that never arrived. My advice? It's good. So eat a huge meal right before you go, because you'll be hungry by the time (if ever) it arrives.
Service unforgivable! – Food good but service makes the dining experience awful with a bitter taste in your mouth. The main server is unbelievably rude from the moment you walk in. He makes you feel like you've committed a crime trying to get a table. He gave his friends seat before we did (not knowing that I understood Japanese, he told his friends that they can have the seat before we did). Also when he called the last call for food, we requested a bowl or ramen. He said we must order a rice dish with it, we said we would then he said we have to order a large, we said we would then he says, we cannot order. I am NEVER going back again, try yakitoriya on Sawtelle. Much cozier and comfortable.
Free range chicken yakitori, yum! – The service could be slow at times, because this place is always busy. However, if you could bear with the inconvenience, and you're a chicken yakitori lover, you'll love this place. Their chicken meat is 100% free range, tasty and juicy. The owner/chef (right behind the grill, with his hispanic assistant) got his chicken done right. There are other yakitori places around town, but for chicken yakitori, kokekokko is second to none. Their gizzards, livers, chicken skins, necks (special order), and tails (sp.) are almost worth dying for.
There is a secret ramen item that is not on the menu. It must come with the grounded chicken on rice (soprono) in to-go box. Oh my god, was that chicken broth good?! Definitely worth ordering.
THEIR SERVICE IS A DISASTER!! – I tried to call in three times on Friday to make reservation. First time i called at around 11:30am was told to call back at 5pm. Second time i called but I was told they don't take reservation until 7p.m. Last time I called was about 7:04p.m. and they told me that they won't take reservation after 7p.m. I was really pissed and frustrated about it. It was ridiculous!! WHAT A JOKE!!!
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