Cultures coalesce at Tokyo Guild, a cozy pub with culinary flair

By Angela Matano

Tokyo Guild 9810 Washington Blvd., Culver City (424) 603-4334 thetokyoguild.com

Fill up on made-from-scratch tonkotsu ramen, crispy shrimp or savory gyoza

Greater Los Angeles celebrates a diversity of culture like no other region in the world, so it should not come as a surprise when two of those cultures collide to create something entirely new. Such is the case with the new Culver City restaurant and bar Tokyo Guild, a cozy eatery blending pub style and Japanese flair to serve a well-curated menu of sandwiches, ramen and small bites.

The unique “sando” menu was the first thing that caught my eye. The sandwiches blend Americana and Asian influences, with a bit of Bavarian thrown in for good luck. The Katsu Sando starts with a pork cutlet, topped with shredded cabbage and doused with katsu sauce (Japanese BBQ sauce) and spicy karashi mustard. The white sandwich bread comes fresh from local bakery MamMoth. Bursting with flavors and just the right size to get all the elements into your mouth, the Sando, paired with the Sapporo Premium Black beer (a malted dark lager), sent me to the moon and back.

Tokyo Guild sets itself apart from other joints with their commitment to local ingredients. The noodles in the ramen bowls come from local purveyor Takara Ramen, Inc. The tonkotsu ramen gets made every day from scratch, taking 12 hours. The slow-braised pork belly, pork broth, green onion, seasoned egg and bean sprouts showcase a ton of flavor.

One of the nicest surprises I came across at this Japanese tavern was the Orange Bang dispenser, or “bubbler,” as the company dubs it. A staple of ’70s L.A., the giant glass canisters whipping up vats of horchata, Pina colada and strawberry bang could be found in many a taco joint, like Pancho’s in Santa Monica. Imagine my delight to revisit a childhood favorite. Tokyo Guild’s Wild Style cocktail mixes the tangy treat with Lillet Blanc, shochu, soda water and pomegranate for a delightful brew, paradoxically both nostalgic and forward-thinking.

To nibble on while you drink, a raft of appetizer choices peppers the menu. As expected in a gastropub, decadent delights like fries, gyoza and wings are tempting. Veggies, in the form of edamame, shishito peppers and Brussels sprouts, are slightly more health-conscious. Adventurous options like octopus with aosa seaweed tickle the taste buds.

All in all, Tokyo Guild is a gift to the neighborhood — the kind of joint that begs to be lived in, with your friends, smartphones placed firmly upside down on the table. Better yet, go crazy and leave your screens at home. You only live once.

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