Aoi Restaurant, located at 331 3. First St. between Central and San Pedro in Little Tokyo, is closing its doors.

Aoi Restaurant in 2007. (Discover Nikkei)
Aoi Restaurant in 2007. (Discover Nikkei)

After 37½ years of operation, the restaurant will shut down at the end of lunch service on Monday, June 30, at 2 p.m.

“All of the tenants have been asked to vacate these premises by the new building owner so that the space can be renovated,” the restaurant said in a message to its customers. “We thank all of our customers for their loyal patronage, support and friendship over all these years.”

The restaurant was established at its current location in 1976 by two sisters from Japan, Hiroko Yamagata and Grace Maruyama, and has become a fixture in the Little Tokyo community. Known for a variety of dishes, including agedashi tofu, katsudon, miso eggplant, nabeyaki udon, okonomiyaki, saba shioyaki and zaru soba, it is especially popular with those who work downtown during the week.

For more information, call (213) 624-8260. To see a profile of the restaurant and its owners, click here.

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  1. Aoi was our family’s Japanese restaurant. We always gathered there after the Nisei Week parade and my mother loved to go there for lunch. We will miss Aoi very much. The food was ALWAYS excellent and the people were so wonderful. I wish them all a good future.

  2. I’ve observed many passages, – businesses have come and gone. And a parade of people have passed through, some briefly as tourist stopping for food, others spend lifetime here, forming the essential muscle and tissue of our tightly knit community of Little Tokyo.

    In the course of my experience, I’ve made friends with many, but along this journey, I’ve come to appreciate those who have made a measurable difference through the simple act of being here.

    Within the last week, we lost AOI Restaurant, a family dining institution at First Street, which closed its door after serving down-home meals for 38 years. Those us who lived and worked in the historic district bear these losses personally, our spirits dimmed by the knowledge that we are forever diminished without them.

    AOI was a fundamental pillar of the time warp that is Old Japantown. Entering the place was truly like peeling a half century; faded and tired, but always so welcoming – the staff, the comfort food and especially the miso shiru and delicious odors perpetually wafting about the place.

    All we can manage to do, remember and dig deeper in the face of such sadness is grieve, remember and dig deeper to move on.

  3. Thank you for so many years of great food! We will miss you!
    The Katayama Family