Hakata Izakaya HERO: A Pictorial Essay

New restaurant alert in Tehrangeles: Hakata Izakaya HERO launches in the storefront previously occupied by necco on Westwood Blvd. Reminiscent of the old beloved restaurant Wakasan (housed here before even necco took ownership), Hakata Izakaya HERO aims to supply a good time to locals with lots of yummy eats (and booze to flow along with it) well into the night. Chef Hiro (the “HERO” of our story, get it?) cooks with a style here which is Kyushu-inflected.

Drink menu, in case you are interested…

Daily sashimi assortment: Two types of snapper. Very good.

Garlic shishito pepper: The right way to start the meal. About 20% of the peppers were spicy.

Hitokuchi (teba) gyoza: Ground up chicken wing meat, stuffed back into the chicken wing, for a wonderful bite! Definitely a highlight here.

Skewers: Beef short rib, cilantro wrapped with pork belly, tomato wrapped with pork belly: Perfectly cooked.

Mini housemade gyoza: Glorious small bites.

Chicken karaage: The star of the night! Crispy, tender, juicy… Perfect with a draft Sapporo!

Currently, the kitchen stays open ‘til 11:30PM. Hiro-san says that in the near future, hopefully the city will grant extension of operating hours ‘til past midnight.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

RECOMMENDED.

Hakata Izakaya HERO
1929 Westwood Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

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Beautiful post as always. Your neck of the woods. Lucked out on the shishitos as usually they are only 10% spicy. Karaage looks awesome.
Best to the family!

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Nice find! I’ll definitely check this out

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Very cool, thanks for the share! Nothing like this in NorCal and I see this as a win!!

If I were to advise them on the sake, and if I were them I would be a lot more bold and specific with focusing on only regional offerings to make them stand out further. Understood they just opened and are maybe testing the waters, but something definitely worth considering down the road to make it unique and pair more with the style of food of the region. Staff just needs to be trained to push the sales of regional sake. It’s the path of more resistance (and more accounts with different sources) but it might be more rewarding in the end and customers get a unique experience. Plus distributors will be more inclined to bring in additional regional sake.

There are at least three Fukuoka prefecture sake labels that are exported that are not on the menu, and represent great opportunities to offer them. I believe some are available in 300 mL.

This one is solid

which K&L also has (superb QPR) but if they price it accordingly, it’s great enough to sell itself even for beginners and will pair nicely with izakaya due to its richer mouthfeel and higher acidity to work with heavier flavor food. It’s darker in complexion due to the use of a black koji mold in the brewing process that’s normally used for shochu production in the area. Solid choice to put on the menu.

Mutual Trading also offers an excellent Fukuoka prefecture sake Niwa No Uguisu (Nightingale in the Courtyard) that’s actually really really good. Two Junmai Ginjo’s: green one which is the only one I’ve tasted recently of the exported lineup is brilliant and versatile with izakaya fare if lightly chilled, the other seems to be better at room temperature or lightly warmed. There are also two Junmai Daiginjo to choose from the distributor (listing two examples of the four below)

Last but not least: Kitaya through this distributor

https://www.wineofjapan.com/portfolio?f[0]=field_product_category%3A48&f[1]=field_product_prefecture%3A127

I’d say just one or two at most, maybe from the 300 mL sized offerings.

Ok to keep Shichida, Saga prefecture is within that western region. And good to include Harada (Yamaguchi prefecture). (Kubota though? :thinking:). And there’s Azumaichi also (Saga prefecture) that’s being offered through Skurnik/Banzai Beverage so it’s definitely available in SoCal. And of course Amabuki (Mutual Trading). Lots of possibilities here!

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Posted before Eater LA lol…

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darnit you beat us to it! We’re not necessarily going to be on top of every single new restaurant opening in town, so we really appreciate your work here. And we’re happy to link to it/give credit!

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This post is about my patio experience at Hakata Izakaya Hero, so I thought I would revive this original thread, rather than post on the rice barber thread.

Hakata Izakaya Hero is the best izakaya in LA right now.

Hiro Chiya is an izakaya veteran that came to the States to enjoy surfing after playing professional (or semi-pro?) soccer in Japan. Before venturing out on his own with Hakata Izakaya Hero, Hiro was the guy behind the scenes at Izakaya Hachi and Manpuku Japanese BBQ. After leaving the Hachi/Manpuku group a couple years back, Hiro briefly worked at Urasawa. This is all to say, the guy has pedigree.

Now at Izakaya Hiro, he is no longer beholden to a larger company (Hachi/Manpuku) or boss (Urasawa). He is calling all the shots and letting his passion and roots direct his cooking. And it shows.
All of the dishes that I had were absolutely delicious, service was excellent and prices were more than fair.

On our recent visit, we sat in the converted parking lot patio. There was maybe one other party besides us and some pickup orders. Leading me to believe that people still have not realized how awesome this place is.

First, Hiro’s wife, who was our server that day, encouraged us to try his Homemade Kimchi. This was a great start to the meal. Like a lot of Japanese kimchi, it tilts far more sweet and umami than sour like Korean kimchi.

Next, the reason we came: these huge creamy, delicious oysters!
After the first bite, we immediately ordered four more.
I want to call out Hiro’s homemade ponzu (seen in the second pic). I usually don’t put anything on my oysters except for a small squeeze of lemon, but I made an exception for Hiro’s ponzu. It was an excellent complement to the oyster.
First order:


Second order:

Assorted sashimi: Magurozuke, Torched Otoro, Black Snapper, some other type of snapper, salmon, Aori Squid from Oita, Saba, and SB Uni
I have only had one togo box of nigiri sushi from Shunji, but this sashimi was on par with that. This plate, minus the uni, is $45. A really great deal for top notch sashimi.



EBI.MAYO.
Fried shrimp coated in a sweet mayo dressing.
If you like ebi mayo, Hiro’s ebi mayo is the best version I have had.
A little pricey at $15 for this plate, but the shrimp are fresh and plump under there.
Eat while hot.

Tebasaki Chicken Wings
This was a riff on Nagoya-style tebasaki with just a hint of curry spice mixed in there.
Small portion, but this was on the happy hour menu. I think it was under $5.

Horumon Teppan
I didn’t see this on the English version of the menu, so you may have to ask for it.
Hiro has extensive experience dealing with offal from his time at Manpuku and his horumon is flawless.
Here the horumon is grilled up with cabbage, onions, green onions, and carrots in a kochujang sauce.
Comes out sizzling. Eat with beer.

We also got the Niratama. It is a simple egg and nira (garlic chives?) omelette topped with a sweet soy-based sauce and mayo.

Good people making good food with all their hearts. I love this place and I will be back to try their motsunabe verrrry soon.

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That ebi mayo ERTAT looks phenomenal.

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I’m putting this on my list.

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For anyone that is interested in tying Izakaya Hero this weekend, it will be their 1 year anniversary, so be sure to reserve in advance. According to their IG, those giant Pacific Oysters are back on the menu.

I just called in my TOGO order for motsunabe this weekend. We have a portable butane grill at home, but I think @CiaoBob mentioned they will let you borrow one of theirs. Because they’re that awesome.

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@Starchtrade do they still have their larger/longer Japanese menu and specials board offerings, and are those currently available as well?

And is Hiro san still offering those eclectic Fukuoka esque dishes pre-pandemic currently? The current English dine in menu from some pictures I’ve seen appears a lot smaller in the selection. Also is Hiro san from Fukuoka prefecture himself?

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Sorry I didn’t take any pics of the menu.
There is a big chalkboard inside restaurant, but that isn’t in play now, of course.
All of the specials were on the “Specials・おすすめ” menu.
But from memory, they have:

  • Main menu
  • Drink menu
  • Happy Hour menu
  • Specials menu

On the main menu there was a 元祖 (“original”/“authentic”/“traditional”) section and a Hakata section.

I remember discussing my love for shochu with him years back at Hachi, so I am almost certain he is from Kyushu. Can’t remember if he was from Fukuoka or one of the other prefectures though.

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he is

menus (english, japanese and specials) are pretty much exactly the same a pre-pandemic

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Oysters for the ouster! (and a bunch of fried food)

Horumon karaage and teba-gyoza were great. Would reorder.
The kibinago was just all right. The chicken karaage was of the fluffy-fried variety, I prefer the more crispy-crackly style of karaage.

Pacific Oysters

Horumon Karaage

Fried Kibinago (little fishies)

Teba-Gyoza

Chicken Karaage

Also, the takeout Motsunabe was tasty and reasonably priced at $40/$45 for two people.
However, I will ask Hiro next time if he can leave larger chunks of motsu. He sliced they too small and they lost that plumpness that makes motsu nabe so great.

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Really wish I lived closer

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Looks like he’s doing a homemade curry for all the Japanese curry lovers out there.
Guaranteed to be tasty and comforting.

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raises hand that would be me!

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Had a nice meal last night. Some real gems and a nice addition for westsiders. For some reason when we walked in I was transported to Midnight Diner. Thanks @CiaoBob and @Starchtrade. FTC reputation still intact and pristine.

Excelent kimchee. I’d eat this at home and better than any Korean version. Not super spicy but well fermented.

Duck, eggplant, some type of veggie the waiter didn’t know the English name for and celery kimchee. Great beer drinking foods.

We are suckers for good cold fresh tofu. This was super with some type of chili crunch and danjeang.

One of the biggest oysters I’ve ever eaten. We usually hate big oysters. Briny, sweet, perfectly shucked and nice with the ponzu. Pleasantly surprised.

Shitake mushroom ponzu. Great sear on the outside so they are still meaty. Not overly dressed. Superb.

Sashimi platter. The standouts were on the ends. Kohada, Saba and both tunas. The 3 types of snapper in the middle were ok. The sashimi at Raku was better but this is still good for an izakaya.

Fantastic fry on the chicken. Crunchy but not oily. Juicy delicious piping hot chicken. Must order.

Pork was well cooked. I think there is too much filling in the skewers. The scallion was better than the Chinese chives. The spicy green pepper sauce was a good accompaniment.

Chicken teba filled gyoza. We were so confused when the dish arrived bc we were expecting a gyoza. The chicken has such a nice char grilled flavor. The filling had a flavor reminiscent of Korean mandoo.

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Glad you enjoyed!
It’s not a gyoza, just a play on the word, as I am sure you have surmised. One of my favorite dishes in the city.

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Yep. Definitely a unique dish and presentation. It was delicious.