Coming to Little Tokyo: Michael Cardenas and Josef Centeno team up to open Lazy Ox


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For all the restaurants opening downtown lately, Little Tokyo has been in need of something new and unexpected (Johnny Rockets doesn’t count). Enter restaurateur Michael Cardenas and chef Josef Centeno, who are planning to open a 60-seat restaurant in the Sakura Crossing building on San Pedro Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets.

The place, Lazy Ox, is envisioned as an ‘innovative neighborhood canteen.’ Cardenas (Boa, Katana, Sushi Roku) and Centeno (Meson G, Opus, Lot 1) say they want to open a local spot where you can stop by for a glass of wine or beer and some duck and pork terrine or sashimi of yellowtail with castelvetrano olives and pomegranate or brick-roasted pork belly with licorice pear, black garlic and charred tomatillo (all according to a preliminary menu). Also expect bäcos.


‘It’s everything I like to eat and whatever inspires me,’ Centeno says. ‘My background is fine dining, but I’ve always wanted to cook with the same ingredients and technique and make it more affordable. It’s not in response to a recession, but it’s what the $30 tasting menu at Opus was all about.

‘I’ve been trying to open a restaurant for the last two years, but all I came up with were busted deals. Michael and I met six months ago and everything just clicked. I love Little Tokyo because it’s got great energy and is really vibrant.’

Lazy Ox is scheduled to open in the fall.

-- Betty Hallock