Given the slew of positive reviews by fellow FTC’ers, I decided to splurge and dive right into it. Up to 8 lucky guests are served each night and service begins at 7:00PM. However, Chef Go is sticking to a max of 6 people for now to test things out.
Pro Tip: For those of you looking for parking, you may park on Alameda for free rather than paying for parking inside ROW’s parking lot as long as you don’t mind walking an additional 100 feet or so.
Note: Course info were adapted from @PorkyBelly’s review while adding my own info in terms of different ingredients and what not, but credit goes to him!
Welcoming sake. Light and fragrant but what do I know about sake?? Zero, zip, nada.
First course coming up!
Chef Go was pleasurable to chat with and super informative. There were intriguing conversations throughout the night between the chef and the 6 of us.
Course #1: santa barbara spot prawns, fava beans, okra, rice vinegar dashi jelly
Super light and refreshing starter. Crustacean was grilled to perfection above binchotan. Perfectly springy and snappy. Dashi jelly, on the other hand, was smokey with great acidity to complement the spot prawn, fava beans, and okra very well.
I wish I could’ve sat closer to Chef Go!
Course #2: corn, hokkaido scallop and mitsuba kakiage tempura
Incredibly light and delicate batter with fantastic crunch. Corn was bursting with sweetness which was countered by the savory scallop that was fried to perfection.
Being the glutton that I am, I’m salivating again looking at this preparation…
Course #3: aji bo-zushi
Spectacular! Nori had great crisp. Rice had good texture and was nicely seasoned. Aji was vinegar-y which cut through the richness of the fat nicely. SUPER YUM!
Course #4: dungeness crab suimono with junsai and baby turnip
Perfectly cooked sweet crab was infused with its brain. Dashi was light and smokey which played a nice background note to the crab. Yum.
Course #5: tai / sea bream and bonito / katsuo sashimi, myoga, shiso
Delicate and mild flavor with the Tai while the bonito had a stronger flavor that’s meatier and fattier.
Did I tell you how much I love abalone?
Another code red highlight alert!
Course #6: abalone with liver sauce and abalone stock jelly
This was a beauty. Steamed abalone had such a beautiful texture, striking the perfect balance between the inherent abalone snappy chew and softness. The accompanying liver sauce has a deep flavor that is reminiscent of a tide pool while the abalone stock jelly had a tremendous depth of umami flavor. FANTASTIC!
Course #7: nodoguro / blackthroat seaperch and burdock root**
GLORIOUS! Nodoguro was grilled on binchotan with a bit of salt resulting in yet another perfectly cooked masterpiece. Skin had a light crisp. Fish was smokey, super juicy, flaky, and moist. The accompanying palate changer in burdock root was earthy, sweet, and equally smokey. Most importantly, it gave the dish a third texture that’s quite unique. It was supple yet chewy at the same time.
Gossip #1: Chef Go’s favorite sushi? He said he doesn’t really eat sushi in LA, but his favorite is Mori.
Gossip #2: Chef Go’s favorite Italian restaurant? Angelini Osteria
Course #8: anago tempura with thickened dashi and ume
This was the only miss of the night to my palate. The anago, even though its texture was spot on, was underseasoned so it took a backseat to the dashi even though the broth was already really light.
Course #9: amadai / tile fish nabe, bamboo shoots, chrysanthemum greens, mitsuba, and shiitake
Perfectly cooked protein was the story of the night and this course was no different. Very homey and comforting with dashi acting as a backbone. Amadai’s texture resembles a cod but isn’t as fatty and has a sweeter and more mild flavor.
Chef Go showcasing the final course
x3 Course #10: kamasu / baby barracuda kamameshi, mitsuba, pickled cucumber and daikon(?) , miso soup with baby corn
Comforting dish but didn’t reach the height of earlier courses. Koshihikari rice was cooked with dashi while grilled kamasu and chopped up mitsuba were mixed and scattered throughout the rice. Rice was cooked well with a bit of chew, but wasn’t at the level of Benu’s cooked rice based on my preference of how toothsome a bowl of rice should be. The rice was slightly crusty which enhanced the flavor a bit and gave each bite varying and contrasting textures (think of Hong Kong’s bo jai fan?).
I had 3 bowls but felt bad so I didn’t ask for more. Two other guests had 5 bowls each.
Not your average salty mess of a miso soup
x3 Course #11: andy’s orchid yellow peaches with sake jelly
Refreshing! These chilled peaches were on the more acidic side which were rounded out by the sweet sake jelly.
Simplicity is the name of the game. However, just because each dish is simple doesn’t mean that they can’t be elevated to greatness. Every course was cooked to perfection regardless of techniques applied with the exception of the underseasoned (FWIW) anago tempura. Overall, I had a great time and a strong meal at Hayato.
If I have to nitpick, I would say that portions can be bigger in each course given how light the meal is. I was hungry again a few hours later but it could just mean that I’m a hopeless glutton.
RECOMMENDED! Head over to Resy and make your reservation NOW!
1320 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Update #1 (5/15/19):
Since I arrived at the ROW an hour early, I decided to do a little pre-gaming:
chocolate walnut cookie at The Manufactory
Very crispy…chocolate-y with hint of nuttiness
clams from somewhere at Rappahannock
oysters from somewhere at Rappahannock
They’re a dollar each since it’s happy hour but they’re flavorless…
Note: Special thanks to Chef Go for providing me description of each course
Summary: Another fun dinner that’s almost flawlessly executed. On a second thought, why can’t other simple cooking be as good as Hayato’s?
- hokkaido scallop and chrysanthemum greens with tosazu jelly
- kobashira and udo tempura
- tai, santa barbara spot prawn, hokkaido uni sashimi, fresh nori
- nodoguro and lotus root
- harrys berries, kinako cream
Welcome sake is sweet and floral
totally forgot what champagne this is
Course #1: hokkaido scallop and chrysanthemum greens with tosazu jelly - Highlight
Excellent balance between sweetness of the slightly charred but rare scallop and acidity in the jelly. The dashi braised greens further echo the dish’s ocean salinity.
Course #2: kobashira and udo tempura - Highlight
I would liken the surf clam abductor muscle’s flavor to a more savory and pleasantly chewy scallop or perhaps even the flavor of a dried scallop. The young udo shoot, on the other hand, reminds me of a tender and mild tasting asparagus. Both tempura are simply shatteringly crispy.
Course #3: kasugodai bo-zushi
The soft and vinegar-y baby red snapper melds very well into the bed of toothsome shari mixed with minty shiso. But I do prefer Chef Go’s aji bo-zushi since the fattier aji coats my mouth with its delectable unctuousness.
Unfortunately, there’s a small scale on my fish.
Course #4: dungeness crab suimono
The feather-light clear dashi pairs well with the inherent sweetness of the dungeness crab meat which is ever so lightly bound together by kanimiso (crab innards).
What are the chances? I ended up with 3 pieces of cartilage mixed into my crab meat.
Course #5: tai, santa barbara spot prawn, hokkaido uni sashimi, fresh nori - Highlight
Excellent. Shoutout to the live spot prawn that has an incredibly snappy texture.
Course #6: katsuo tataki
The early season lean bonito has a hint of smokiness from the charred skin and the use of soy and various aromatics like grated ginger, citrus, and daikon radish really brought out the delicate tuna flavor.
Course #7: nodoguro and lotus root - Highlight
Hayato’s nodoguro’s still one of the best piece of fish I’ve ever had. Its combination of clean oily flavor, soft, flakey flesh, and charred crispy skin is dangerously intoxicating. The side of soy brushed lotus root is grilled over binchotan for over 40 mins to achieve a slightly crisped yet chewy exterior while retaining its inherent snappy texture inside.
Course #8: kisu in fava bean ankake
The expertly fried kisu is quite lean and delicate in flavor so I’m glad it’s paired with a equally light but thickened dashi that’s amped up with a just touch of grassy note from the chopped fava bean.
According to Chef Go, this A5 Omi Wagyu he uses is much beefier in taste than A5 from both Miyazaki or Kagoshima and cost roughly 30% more. The slices in the picture are about $20 each.
Course #9: a5 omi gyu shabu shabu, komatsuna, bamboo, shiitake
The wagyu is incredibly buttery and beefy but the star of the dish is actually the dashi. Bonito flakes in this dashi are steeped at a higher temperature and for much longer so the broth carries an intense flavor that’s able to withstand the wagyu.
Course #10: konoko (sea cucumber ovaries) and sake
This rare delicacy is lightly salted and carries a very unique flavor that I liken to a cross between an intensely briny uni and Chinese salted fish. Texture wise, it reminds me of a slippery sausage casing. Super interesting indeed!
Course #11: sawara yuan yaki rice pot, miso soup, pickles
I ended up with 4 bowls with each one getting progressively bigger. The distinctly aromatic sansho leaves offer bursts of freshness to lighten up the fish and soy meshi. According to Chef Go, he prefers a roughly 1 to 1 fish to rice ratio.
Course #12: harrys berries, kinako cream - Highlight
Bar none the best strawberries I’ve ever had. They’re superbly tender with just enough acidity to balance its intense sweetness. The kinako (soybean flour) cream, while not as light as pastry cream, has a touch of toasty flavor that made its pairing with the strawberries really unique and fun.
Extras…all ended up in my belly
Banana Cream Tart from The Manufactory
Post-Hayato bang at home. It’s glorious.