Scot and I were lucky to score very hard to get reservations at Hayato. Up until recently he has only been making (very elaborate and exclusive) bento boxes for lunch. Now he has expanded into a beautiful restaurant serving no more than seven a night – one seating. (Tatami for 6 coming soon.) Chef Brandon Go is passionate and humble and very excited about what he is creating. His shun-no-mono (seasonal) ingredients are carefully and meticulously sourced mostly locally but also from Japan. Chef is laser focused on coaxing the best out of each protein and vegetable via simple preparations that clearly took a significant amount of time and technique to pull off. He understands and embraces Washoku (authentic Japanese food.) The entire experience pays homage to true Kaiseki using all the cooking techniques of sashimi, grilling, steaming, frying and simmering along with an atmosphere of Omentenashi (Japanese hospitality) with dishes of slowly progressing richness and bigger flavors. Also noteworthy were the dishes and ochuko (sake glasses) themselves. Chef Go mentioned they came from a lifetime of acquiring them during his travels around Japan and from other restaurants he worked for here in CA. The dishes were themselves works of art.
One aspect of his palate that I especially appreciate is how, like me, he eschews putting too much sugar/Mirin in the dishes. As a Burgundy wine lover, he even avoids using too much soy as that will often compete with wine. (Besides some interesting and eclectic Sake, his list also has some select reasonably priced Burgundy and other wine. His markup is reasonable and not price gauging like most places around LA.)
If I was going to nitpick I would say there are elements of execution that need a little polishing. My Nodoguro had a bone and was over salted, which sucked out some of the moisture. I just had that dish in Kanazawa back in April multiple times and know what it should taste like. Chef just started down his journey, this kind of thing will quickly resolve itself I am sure.
At $200 pp + 16% gratuity, it is not cheap. But for the quality of the ingredients, and the significant amount of labor as well as the intimate seating, I actually think you are getting good value. It is certainly cheaper than a flight to Japan!
1320 E 7th Street Suite 126
Los Angeles, CA 90021
The parking lot is the same lot as Smorgasburg uses.