It Runs East-West

August 22, 2002 • Culture, Lifestyle

Sawtelle may be a north-south street on the map, but for many homesick young Asians, it goes straight to the heart.


The pack of young women stationed outside FuRaiBo, a Japanese-style pub or izaka-ya on West Los Angeles’ Sawtelle Boulevard, is a subtle but sure sign that there’s more going on in this short block of Japanese mini-malls than just an exotic lunch at Sawtelle Kitchen or Hurry Curry.

Surrounded by unremarkable office buildings, nurseries and neon storefronts, the young scenesters casually dressed in jeans and belted knit sweater-jackets shudder in the Friday evening chill and steel themselves for what they’ve been told will be a one-hour wait to get in the new Pan-Asian youth hotspot.

Inside, the crowd is a blend of Japanese hipsters, college students of many Asian ethnicities and even the odd couple with a baby mobbing the tables under the dramatic glow of Japanese lamps. The latest J-pop hits (the sugary-sweet Japanese equivalent of Top 40 songs) thump from the speakers, underlying the clatter of dishes and rowdy laughter as pitchers of beer pass overhead.

An orderly array of shoes lined up outside a private room with walls of tatami, rice straw matting, where customers sit on fabric floor cushions around four tiny tables, is a reminder that this is, after all, a Japanese club. But the youthful presence, along with the area’s scattering of authentic Japanese pop culture shops, makes it clear that this isn’t anything like downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo or Gardena’s Japanese neighborhoods. Sawtelle Boulevard, from Olympic to Santa Monica boulevards, is for the young.

News Source: CalendarLive >>


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