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Recession Obsession (Redux): Japanese Breakfast at Lunch Time

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A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it stays in your mind long after digestion's end, and, 2) plays nice with your sensitive wallet. Is there a better place than Los Angeles to eat a wide variety of amazing food that so happens to be inexpensive? Probably not. We're as lucky as we are well fed. In our last Recession Obsession we got into the tacos of El Taurino Suadero.

This was a budget-conscious bite so nice we're hitting it up twice--only this time we're trying to other side of its cuisine coin, so to speak. The first time we obsessed about Tokyo 7-7 in Culver City it was breakfast time, and we went all-American for just a few bucks. But this time, we decided to explore their Japanese side in the early afternoon.

Okay, so it was lunchtime, but we were still seduced by the breakfast offerings. The almost ramshackle diner, which is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. only, hosts an eclectic mix of clientele and staff. Solo diners with heads buried in newspapers sit at the central counter as elderly ladies come in to chat with the servers they seem to know well. NPR's "Marketplace" is the curious choice of audio entertainment seeping from the kitchen, and though no one seems to be listening to it specifically, it somehow is the perfect echo to the gentle hum of the customers' quiet conversations and plate scraping.

From the breakfast menu we zeroed in on their "special." A plate of Cha-Shiu (barbequed pork), sunomono (cucumber salad), Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet/grilled egg), Miso soup, and rice is $6 and change (plus tax and tip, of course). It's not your typical eggs and bacon affair, but there's the eggy protein to mix with the sweet-savory pork, the rice for a starchy boost, and the vinegary cucumber for some veg. It's a nice alternative to hash browns and cheese-stuffed omelets and buttery toast, and it's available all day.

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Of course if you're still hankering for some of that, Tokyo 7-7's griddle will sizzle up with your affordable order of American fare. If you're seated early enough, you can get your fill for about $3 and keep it on the cheap. At lunch, you can mix and match Japanese and Western by having your Royal with a shake or your French Toast with a side of Miso soup. And, pssst, you get 2 free hours of parking in the Culver City structures--more bucks saved while enjoying a bargain breakfast at lunchtime bite.

Tokyo 7-7 is located in an alleyway (behind Bottelrock) at 3839 Main Street, Suite B in Culver City (310) 204-5728 Cash only