Hayato Restaurant; Exciting New Kaiseki in DTLA

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!

Ama Ebi (sweet shrimp) with Okra and Fava and Dashi Gelee

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Kakiage (multiple ingredients fried together) tempura with seasonal corn and scallop. The corn was crunchy and soft and was the perfect foil to the scallop

Saba “sushi”- I typically don’t like Saba as it is often too fishy. Not this one! Wish there was more.

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Lobster ball in rich dashi stock with matsutake mushrooms. Soft and decadent. Loved this dish

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Aji and Tai sashimi. Chef encourages pairing it with Shio (salt -not pictured) rather than Shoyu (soy sauce) as it is so delicate. The Aji was fresh and vibrant and not at all fishy. Perfectly executed

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Grilled Nodoguro (Black throat sea perch) and grilled gobo (burdock) both made on the Binchotan. Very expensive and amazing fish he imported from Ishikawa. Skin was super crispy. If everyone could try this fish they would stop insisting on eating Chilean sea bass in two seconds.

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Abalone with Abalone jelly and sauce made from the liver. Very authentic dish. The texture on the Abalone was perfect – not too soft or too firm. A labor of love to be sure. Please note this dish came before the Nodoguro – my software won’t let me fix it for some reason.

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Age Anago (fried sea eel) in a delicate dashi topped with Negi (japanese green onion.) I really appreciated he did not sweeten this broth as others would have

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This time the crispy-skinned fish (rare variety of  snapper) was served in a yet richer dashi stock thickened with Kudzu with large chunks of the matsutake mushrooms and Shungiko (chrysanthemum greens). I was getting kinda full at this point but could not resist the intense flavors.

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Tai Meshi with sea bream. Look at all that fish!

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Perfectly cooked rice that took on all the flavors of the generous amount of fish yet it was not mushy at all. Each individual grain came through. You could have as many bowls as you wanted. Chef mentioned one guy had 5 bowls once.

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Seasonal peaches from a local farmer encased in gelee. Such a perfect Washoku ending to a great meal.

http://www.hayatorestaurant.com/

info@hayatorestaurant.com

(213) 395-0607

1320 E 7th Street Suite 126
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The parking lot is the same lot as Smorgasburg uses.

2 thoughts on “Hayato Restaurant; Exciting New Kaiseki in DTLA

  1. I knew you guys would approve of this place. We were at his inaugural dinner. Did you mention us? We should go back as a group of six in the next few months and bring some kick ass burg.

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