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Little Tokyo: Covering all the favorites

Little Tokyo in downtown Ashland is simple, elegant and affordable.

The narrow interior feels open with the large window in the front and tall ceilings. My husband and I sat in a booth secluded by walls reaching above us. The atmosphere felt intimate yet inviting. One wall contained a beautiful picture of koi fish and the other walls held pictures of dishes available on the menu.

Our young waiter was patient and friendly, giving us plenty of time to look over the menu. The name may be Little Tokyo, and the sushi side of the menu may be extensive, but this Ashland eatery covers most Asian cuisines. From entrees to sushi rolls to bento specials, it was hard to make a decision because everything sounded appetizing.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the house salad. Too often the house salad is the part of the meal most ignored by restaurant and guests alike. The small salad, however, was wonderfully fresh. The iceberg lettuce was crunchy, as well as the small bits of carrots, and the creamy dressing drizzled over it was sweet and salty.

We started our meal with an order of potstickers ($10). The deep-fried dumplings were filled with chicken and pork and served with a house-made sweet and spicy sauce. The potstickers were crunchy on the outside, soft and steamy inside. The meat was salty and made even tastier by the sauce, which was on the sweeter side.

For dinner I ordered the Chicken Bento ($15). It was served with house salad, four-piece California roll, steamed rice, and edamame. If it sounds like a lot of food to you, it definitely is. This meal is easily split between two, but everything was so delicious on its own, I had a hard time letting my husband sample from my bento box.

The chicken practically melted in my mouth, partly due to the teriyaki sauce it was doused in. Sesame seeds were also sprinkled on top of the thick sauce, adding a pleasant toasted flavor. The rice was sticky and easily picked up by chopsticks. The California roll was filled with cream cheese, seaweed, avocado and cucumber and wrapped in sticky rice. It was fresh and made a nice palate cleanser throughout the meal when dipped in soy sauce.

Little Tokyo, at 29 N. Main St., is the ideal location for a big group or an intimate date night. Since it’s in the Ashland Plaza, it’s just a short walk to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, making it even more ideal for a pre-show meal.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the house salad. Too often the house salad is the part of the meal most ignored by restaurant and guests alike. The small salad, however, was wonderfully fresh. The iceberg lettuce was crunchy, as well as the small bits of carrots, and the creamy dressing drizzled over it was sweet and salty.

My husband ordered the Spicy Shrimp Udon ($15). We’re used to thin glass noodles, wide rice noodles and even soba noodles, but udon was a first for both of us. All I knew before trying them is they’re wheat flour noodles that look like thick spaghetti. In this dish, the noodles were mixed with zucchini, carrots, sesame seeds and shrimp and doused in a spicy sauce. The sauce could have been spicier, but it wasn’t lacking in flavor. The noodles held in the heat and let the vegetables and shrimp deliver most of the kick to the tip of the tongue. The udon noodles contained an almost slimy texture that made it hard to eat with chopsticks, but they were tasty and filling. The dish also was served with a side of steamed rice.

The sushi, nigiri and sashimi side of the menu ranges from $5 to $29. We were too full to venture there, but it was definitely enticing enough to come back. Little Tokyo even has Bibimop ($13), a traditional Korean meal, fish tempura ($15) and miso ramen ($12). The drink menu consisted mostly of coke products, wine, beer and a few types of sake. Hot green tea ($2.50) is never a bad idea when enjoying a bento bowl or a noodle dish.

Little Tokyo, at 29 N. Main St., is the ideal location for a big group or an intimate date night. Since it’s in the Ashland Plaza, it’s just a short walk to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, making it even more ideal for a pre-show meal. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call 541-708-6366.

Chicken Bento at Little Tokyo includes chicken with teriyaki and sesame seeds, a house salad, steamed rice, a four-piece California roll and edamame. (Photo by Jordan Marie McCaw)