There’s something about going out to dinner with a few friends. Sure, one-on-one dining is fun, but when you go out with say, five or six people, the chance of sharing each other’s food is greater, and you really get to experience what a restaurant has to offer without visiting multiple times. It makes dining more pleasurable, especially when you are at a place that encourages sharing. Some places offer family-style dining, where it’s almost like Sunday dinner with the large plates that cover your table, while others serve small plates, or tapas, where you get a little bit of something and pass it along. Both options encourage lively discussions, mostly about the food. In Asian culture, establishments that offer tapas are otherwise known as izakayas, which are very popular in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles.

A new addition to the art of izakayas, Izakaya & Bar Fu-ga has arrived and is already gaining momentum in the short time they’ve been open. Located near the “blink and you’ll miss it” Weller Court off Second and San Pedro Streets, Fu-ga doesn’t really look like much. But once you step through the doors and walk underground into the captivating space, it’s like being transported to a Japanese culinary wonderland with all the options Fu-ga has to offer. For starters, there is a resident DJ on Fridays, so you can come and dance all night. You may think this is a bit overwhelming for conversation, but the music actually serves as a soundtrack to your lively conversation. If it’s not to your liking, you can always reserve Fu-ga’s Banquet Room with its large flat-screen television … basketball season is upon us!

Once you settle into your dining table and start reading the menu, you’ll see why Fu-ga should be one of your regular hangout spots. From lunch specials like the 21-day aged Rib Eye with vegetables, purple potatoes and your choice of rice for about $10 to the Happy Hour and Dinner menus, Fu-ga has you covered with options.

Happy hour runs seven days a week, with nothing on the menu priced over $5.99, so you can easily have a full meal. My favorites include the juicy chicken karaage and fries seasoned with a spicy jack cheese uniformly melted over the medium-cut potatoes. Pair that with a large $2 discounted sake and beer and that in itself is very hearty. Make sure your dining companions order the calamari, I know it sounds a bit ordinary, but Fu-ga’s take on the fried squid is crisp and not in the least oily. Fusion at its best takes form in the pork rib tacos, even though it has been done to death with all the food trucks, the experience of having them can really round out your Happy Hour experience.

Now, the trifecta is the Dinner menu, where Fu-ga is at their best. Fried seaweed flakes adorn the nori-tinged garlic French fries; the garlic within a melted compound butter that makes every bite of the fries that much better. The Panko fried-breaded brie is creamy and spot-on with texture. Pair that with a Viognier wine or one of the imported Japanese beers. I am not a fan of crab, but I tried a bite of my friend’s broiled king crab legs and might have to change my mind on that crustacean. Black pork, or Kurobuta sausage, is served alongside Portuguese linguiça and German Bratwurst, and guess what accompanies that? A nice, simple, whole grain mustard … mmm, that paired with a nice glass of wine still sounds great long after the meal is over.

There are noodles, rolls and “prepared to your taste” premium beef served with a tart, hint-of-citrus Ponzu sauce. It was very apparent that the regulars love these steaks, which include a spicy garlic sauce.

Fu-ga has so much to offer, check the Web site for shows. Every Thursday night DJ Anthony Adems spins the best lounge, Top of the Pops hits and soulful rhythms. There’s lot of fun to be had at Izakaya & Bar Fu-ga; big group or small, you’ll never run out of things to talk about.

For more information, call (213) 625-1722 or visit