When I read about Shojin on Quarrygirl’s vegan bucket list it went straight to the top of my “must try” list. Los Angelenos love their sushi period. As a vegan, however, your sushi options are pretty limited. I mean of course you can order an avocado roll or a cucumber roll, but that gets old fast. The whole sushi experience just hasn’t been the same for me since I stopped eating fish,that was until this Wednesday night when I ate at Shojin. Shojin, an all vegan and organic sushi restaurant in Downtown LA, boasts one of the most inventive menus I have ever seen. Last night my friend Austen (who you might remember from Elf fame) and I dined at Shojin and got to experience vegan sushi at its finest.
333 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Mon-Thu 5:30 pm – 12 am, Fri 5:30 pm – 1 am, Sat 12 pm – 1 am, Sun 12 pm – 10 pm
Located inside of a shopping mall in Little Tokyo, Shojin isn’t exactly convenient (unless you live Downtown I suppose). Park in the mall’s garage and then make your way to the third floor. Shojin is modestly nestled next to other sushi restaurants, karaoke bars and arcades, which could make for a fun rest of your night.
Shojin is definitely upscale. The atmosphere is intimate and mellow and the decor matches the mood.
The menu is epicly huge, maybe 20 pages with full color pictures of every item.
Our waiter was so cute and possibly overly helpful. I told him it was our first time dining there and if he could direct us to their most popular items. He pointed out that the menu was numbered by most popular in each section. Love it! It really made ordering so much easier to see what was ranked 1, 2 and 3. It actually says, “Best 1” “Best 2” and so on. Haha! We split a bunch of things so we could try as much as possible.
We started with their sampler appetizer plate, which featured their top 2 most popular appetizers and their most popular sushi roll.
The first thing we tried was the shiitake tempura. Hmmmm how do I put this. I think Austen actually said it best: “The bite I just had tasted like blubber. Like from a dolphin or a whale.” Okay now clearly neither of us have ever tasted blubber before, and hopefully you haven’t either, but this is exactly what I would imagine it to taste like. I just couldn’t get over the consistency. It also was a little greasy. Not down with eating a vegan jellyfish grease bite.
The pumpkin croquette was much better, but not knock your socks off amazing. I’d like to call it a fried yum nugget, smothered in a thick orange “chicken” flavored sauce. They described it as tomato sauce but I tasted no tomato. It was pretty good regardless.
The dynamite roll undoubtedly stole the show. It was unbelievable. Their rendition if spicy tuna was so dead on. No clue how they get it to taste so damn similar, but I was seriously into it. I could eat 4 orders of that and be great.
After the apps we wanted to order a salad. They have ten or so brand new menu items, and one of them was a kale caesar with bbq tempeh. It sounded amazing, as did all of their salads, but after much deliberation we went with the Tempura Avocado Salad instead. Next time that kale is mine.
This was off the charts amazing. It gets the Vegan GF “stooooopid good” seal of approval. If you’ve never had tempura avocado bites before, it will probably change your life. The salad was crisp, crunchy and perfectly dressed. I would 100 percent order this again. Must get.
After we devoured our salad it was time to get into some rolls. Even though we LOVED the dynamite roll we wanted to try as much as possible, so we ordered three new rolls instead.
This roll SERIOUSLY tasted like the real thing. Again, no clue how they got seitan to taste so much like eel but wowzahs, I’m impressed. Loved the sauce, loved the avocado but the seitan “eel” really made this go to the next level. I liked this roll a lot and would def recommend it. Dynamite is still better but this is damn good.
I guess we should have known since this wasn’t even ranked, but this eggplant roll seriously missed the mark. The eggplant, the main component of the roll, was cold and unimpressive. Def would not order this again. Bummer.
OMFG Sky High where have you been all my life. This was by far and away the BEST ORDER OF THE NIGHT. I had one bite and couldn’t stop saying “winner winner soy-chicken dinner.” This roll wins at life. The perfect blend of crunch, spicy “tuna” and sweet soy sauce. Austen and I agreed this was the best sushi roll we had ever had. This is an absolute MUST ORDER.
They had a bomb looking dessert menu but we were pretty full so we opted out. Next time I am getting after their molten chocolate lava cake though. Before our check came our waiter brought us both fruit plates on the house. So sweet!
All and all Shojin turned out to be pretty killer. I wouldn’t put it on the top of my best vegan restaurant in LA list, but definitely best Japanese, and 100 percent worth checking out. I think I need to master my orders here and then it could be a contender. I will be back to try.
Let it also be noted they have a full wine, beer and sake list AND they are open to midnight on weekdays and 1 am on the weekends. Crazy.
Vegan sushi lovers untie! Shojin makes cucumber rolls a thing of the past. Check it out.
Your Vegan Girlfriend