downtown los angeles, guest writer, little tokyo

“Fickle” in Little Tokyo Downtown LA Provides Gourmet in a Casual Setting

Fickle is now open in Little Tokyo in Downtown LA offering gourmet food in a casual setting (Photo: Brigham Yen)

Fickle is now open in Little Tokyo in Downtown LA offering gourmet food in a casual setting (Photo: Brigham Yen)

Located prominently at the corner of 1st Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo, “Fickle” by Chef James Ta is somewhat of a hidden culinary destination. By day, Fickle’s restaurant space operates as its alter ego “The Sandwich Smith,” specializing in gourmet sandwiches featuring farm fresh ingredients in a casual setting at accessible prices. Once the sun sets however, candles take over the dining room, sandwiches become a distant memory, and the Fickle menu, featuring a who’s who of high quality dishes and flavors takes center stage. True to its namesake and Chef Ta’s mission, Fickle’s menu adjusts frequently to ensure that only the freshest ingredients are used.

Lawrence Aldava for

On my recent visit I delved right into the dinner menu starting with the Oyster plate and Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio. Combining four varieties of oysters (including both sweet and briny variants) and served with house made red wine mignonette and cocktail sauce, it offers a great introduction to Chef Ta’s dedication to freshness. The oysters were among the best I’ve had and are complemented nicely by the sauces provided, particularly the mignonette. The Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio with herbed chevre cheese and blood orange salad was simple and delicious. I nearly finished this plate on my own.

Among my favorite main dishes on the menu were the pork belly and crispy veal sweet breads. Served on a bed of pumpkin puree and charred savory cabbage, the pork belly is both tender and flavorful. The pumpkin puree, which seems like it would be heavy in theory, actually complements the fattiness of the pork belly nicely without overpowering it. The crispy veal sweet breads served with bacon, cherry tomatoes and lemon aioli was perfectly cooked. Each piece had just the right amount of breading and the tart sweetness of lemon aioli offers the perfect counterbalance to the saltiness of the bacon.

For dessert, I loved the Tiramisu cheesecake, which is actually much lighter than it might sound.

While I didn’t have a chance to try every dish on Fickle’s menu, I came away very impressed with the dishes I did taste and am eager to return to try others. For those who have already experienced The Sandwich Smith, I highly recommend returning in the evening to try Fickle for dinner or happy hour. I think you’ll come away just as impressed as I was.

Fickle is open from 5:30 – 10:00 PM Monday through Thursday and 5:30 – 11:00 PM Fridays & Saturdays. The Fickle Happy Hour menu is available between 5:00 and 7:00 PM Monday through Friday.

To view the full menu, check out Fickle’s website.

All images taken by Brigham Yen

Fresh oysters

Fresh Oysters

Tomato Carpaccio

Tomato Carpaccio

Pork belly with pumpkin puree

Pork Belly with Pumpkin Puree

Crispy veal sweetbreads

Crispy Veal Sweet Breads

Close up of the tender veal

Close up of the tender veal

Tiramisu cheesecake (on the left)

Tiramisu Cheesecake (on the left)

Other delicious dishes

Dijon and Thyme Lamb Rack

Dijon and Thyme Lamb Rack

Roasted Bone Marrow

Roasted Bone Marrow

Mussel in Ox-Tail Soup

Mussel in Ox-Tail Soup

Fickle in Little Tokyo is Chef Ta's concept for dinner while The Sandwich Smith is the lunch concept

Fickle in Little Tokyo is Chef Ta’s concept for dinner while The Sandwich Smith is the lunch concept

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  1. I was there for dinner about a month ago and was not impressed. The carmel popcorn tasted stale. I didn’t finish my small fish plate and the meat we got was way over cooked. Also, the owner was talking smack about one of the neighboring restaurants. I wouldn’t go back or recommend it to anyone.

  2. Andrew W. says

    The crispy veal sweet bread and Tiramisu cheesecake looks absolutely delicious!

  3. The happy hour food was really good and super flavorful. Oysters were really fresh. Beer and wine options were very limited (only two of each when we went) and they didn’t have sangria that day, but I would def. go back for happy hour. I hope this place does well; the food is really good but at kind of a higher price point than most in Little Tokyo.

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