All photos courtesy of N/Soto

The One Who Keeps the BookLos Angeles

How to Get a Table at N/Soto — and What to Order Once You’re There


N/Soto started life as a pandemic-era pop-up from Niki Nakayama and her wife and N/Naka sous chef Carole Iida-Nakayama. Well, “pop-up” might not be the most exact term for the immaculate to-go bento boxes the Michelin-starred chefs were turning out from their kitchen in Mid City, but no matter. The boxes were an instant hit, and the couple’s pandemic pivot soon turned into something permanent. 

The menu has since expanded, an extensive bar program has developed, and a calming, manicured dining room has become a hot spot for locals and visitors alike. In fact, getting a seat at N/Soto might be more challenging now than when it first opened, and almost as tough to nab as the perpetually booked N/Naka. But there are ways, says General Manager Mark Nechols. 

For the latest installment One Who Keep the Books, our regular series that aims to answer all the most important of questions about how to get into a restaurant, we sat down with Nechols to talk reservation strategy, the perks of Table 55, and what Haruki Murakami has to do with the bar menu. 

What time do reservations hit Resy?

We open them 30 days in advance. So, they open every day at 11 a.m. for that 30th day.

How quickly do they fill up?

Usually our dining room tables are filled pretty quickly and usually for those primetime slots from 7:30 onwards. And then people often seek the larger tables as well, since those are pretty limited here. We have one table in the dining room that can serve six to eight guests, and that’s our largest table. That one goes pretty quickly.

How many seats does N/Soto have?

About 75 seats, altogether. 

Do you save any room for walk-ins? Perhaps at the bar? 

We try to keep a portion — usually two or three seats — available for walk-ins at the bar. Then we try to keep a few tables set aside on the patio, more so than anything, for walk-ins.

If I walk in at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and put my name down, how long will I usually have to wait for a table?

It kind of depends on the night. If it’s a busy Friday or Saturday evening, it could be an hour. We try to be pretty accommodating and flexible. We’ll try to get you seated sooner, but we might give you a maximum estimated wait time of 90 minutes or something along those lines. We usually try to give options, at least. And if that doesn’t work, then we’ll put you on the waitlist.

What night(s) would someone have the best chance at scoring a reservation?

Probably Wednesday and Thursday. On Sundays, everyone wants to dine earlier. So, if you were inclined to dine a little bit later, then you probably can make a reservation or walk-in at, say, 8:30 or 9 p.m.

How long is your Notify list, normally?

Normally on a Friday or Saturday, it’s about 100 people.

Any tips or tricks to get a reservation you suggest?

People need to check-in and confirm reservations. Often, 24 hours before their reservation they’ll choose to cancel. So, checking the day before, like 24 hours before you would like to ideally dine is always a good idea. And then we do have an information email [] which I’m pretty responsive to and I’ll try to find options for you. We do have a telephone number, which we’re not always able to pick up, but if you can’t get through that way, I always recommend that you reach out to that email.

What do you think is the best seat in the house?

Table 55 in the corner. It’s a booth and it’s best for groups of three or four, but we’ve crammed up to six into there too. It also has a bit of privacy with the noren curtains. And then we do have one table outside which is sort of similar — table A. It’s more for a two-top, but you can sit next to each other and see the whole view of the patio.

Is the clientele mostly locals? Out of towners? A mix?

It’s definitely a mixture. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of neighbors and locals, and this community is growing too, so I probably see someone familiar just about every night, which is cool. And then there are quite a few people that are coming from out of town or can’t snag a reservation at N/Naka, so they come here.

Skewers aplenty
Skewers aplenty

What’s a highlight of the bar menu? 

Right now, one of the more popular cocktails is the West of the Sun, which is our kakigori-inspired shaved ice cocktail. It’s sweet and there’s Japanese mandarin juice, which is the frozen component of it.

Is that named after the Haruki Murakami novella?


Any dishes you think are not to be missed?

The ochazuke, which is generally something you’re supposed to have as your final savory item before a sweet dessert. It’s a soothing and comforting final little rice dish that you pour some tea with dashi over. It’s not something that people always know about, especially if you’ve had some larger rice dishes. 

How often does the menu change?

Pretty much every day. It’s generally just tweaks here and there, more so in the raw sushi section because those items are constantly changing based on seasonality and freshness. But that’s a big draw for our guests too, because every time they come in there are new items to try.

What does a busy Friday night normally look like here?

A busy Friday night? The dining room is full. The bar is full as well. We have some waiting areas, but there’s probably people waiting outside to get in. On a weekend, like I was saying, it’s a lot of families or friends that haven’t seen each other in a while. So, this is definitely like a get-together time, which is really cool. The patio is usually a little bit quieter. 

Anything else about the dining experience at N/Soto we should know?

Our menu is really supposed to suit any sort of guest experience that you’re looking to have. If you come in and have some skewers and some nigiri and then finish off with the ochazuke, you can be completely content. Or you could have a really celebratory experience and get bottles of saké and oysters and caviar and uni — kind of go all out. Our menu has over 50 items. Our kitchen works really hard just to be able to put that out there so guests can cultivate the experience on their own.


Oren Peleg is a journalist and screenwriter. He currently contributes to Eater LA, Los Angeles, The Infatuation, and hosts the Not Billable podcast. You can follow him here. While you’re at it, follow Resy, too.