Tasting the Seasons of Japan - The Exquisite, Austere, Pure Kaiseki Cuisine of Hayato [Thoughts + Pics]



$245 for 8 courses. Hayato is quite the bargain by comparison.

Nope. That includes gratuity. $245 × 1.08875 = 266.74

Hayato $200 × 1.095 × 1.2 = 262.80


good catch!

PorkBelly for FTC Treasurer 2020…


Update 2:

Perhaps one of the greatest meals we had last year, the Kaiseki cuisine (roughly translated as “a seasonal tasting menu” but with much more meaning and tradition in each course that comes out) at Hayato is something not to be missed. With the changing of the seasons, it was time to see what Chef-Owner Brandon Hayato Go might be preparing nowadays.

(For those that might get lost in ROW DTLA shopping complex, from the parking structure go straight ahead past the large tree, and make a LEFT, at which point you’ll see this long row of shops):

Walk down about halfway and Hayato is on your RIGHT side:

Upon entering, we are immediately greeted with a bow from Chef-Owner Go. Hayato was simple, clean and beautiful last year, but this year, they have finished construction on their 4 seat Tatami area and table (gorgeous!) that reminds us of Kaiseki eateries in Japan:

Go-san said that he’s still working out the logistics, wanting to hire someone to be able to deliver the dishes to that table as he’s finished cooking and preparing them, so they present to everyone at the same time.

We are welcomed with a complimentary cup of Sake…

Dassai - 23 - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Yamaguchi, Japan):



While we generally like the Dassai lineup, it had been a few years since we last had Dassai 23. It is floral, fruity, with a relatively clean finish. A nice welcome presented in a beautiful gold Sake cup.

For additional Sake drinking, I love that you can choose your own beautiful handmade Sake cup. :slight_smile:

Choose. But choose wisely…

Dewazakura - Yukimanman “Snow Country” - Daiginjo Sake (Yamagata, Japan):

Finally! I had this Dewazakura Sake bookmarked for years to try if we finally saw it on a Sake menu (thanks to @beefnoguy). And we’re glad Go-san has added it to Hayato’s Sake menu now. Aged 5 years in snow, there was a slight nose of fruit, but then you have just this cool, crisp, clean taste, with some noticeable alcoholic punch that quickly dissipates. It was quite tasty and we’re glad to have tried it. :blush:

It is an absolute pleasure to watch Chef-Owner Go, as he personally prepares every single course throughout the evening. Here’s Go-san as he prepares the Sakizuke Course for us:

Sakizuke Course - Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, Chrysanthemum Greens, Cucumber, Tosazu Jelly:

The plating looked beautiful in a rustic, yet elegant way, and as we were about to take a bite, Go-san quietly mentions that he just got these serving dishes from a source in Kyoto, Japan. Known as Imari-yaki, these Japanese porcelain plates were over 250 years old (older than the U.S.A.)! :open_mouth:


We were suddenly nervous and extra careful before diving in, and made sure not to try and pick them up. :sweat_smile:

Sweet, fresh, plump Santa Barbara Spot Prawns. I loved the contrast of the lightly bitter Chrysanthemum Greens and the Tosazu Jelly provided a nice piquant contrast. :slight_smile:

Agemono Course - Farmers Market Corn, Hokkaido Scallop Kakiage:

I love the ordering and presentation for Go-san’s Kaiseki meal. This next course is their Agemono (or Fried) course. Beautiful, naturally sweet Farmers Market Corn matches perfectly with the different type of inherent sweetness and brightness of Scallops from Hokkaido, Japan, delicately fried together.

While delicious as is, Go-san serves this course with Sea Salt from Shizuoka, Japan, and the taste is spectacular! :heart:

As Chef Go is preparing the next course (and we spot some Fish and Rice being laid out), we ask him what his favorite Sushi-ya in Japan is currently. Without missing a beat, he says, “Sawada.”

Shinogi Course - Aji Bozushi (Spanish Mackerel Sushi) (Hyogo, Japan):

Go-san provides some insight to this dish, saying that traditionally the Shinogi course was to provide a small bite of something more substantial (Rice, Noodles, Mochi, etc.) to tide the guest over inbetween the earlier / lighter courses. He also said this helped with early Sake drinking. :wink:

During this season, Go-san presents Aji from Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. He’s prepared it Bo-zushi style, forming the Sushi into a cylindrical shape. The Aji has that nice balance of great brininess with brightness, not as heavy as, say, Saba (Mackerel), and not too light either. It is outstanding! :heart:

And the pairing with the Yukimanman Sake was perfect! :slight_smile:

Owan Course - Steamed Live Dungeness Crab Ball + Fish Dashi:

Go-san states that the Owan (or Bowl) course is the most important course at Hayato. The various Housemade Dashi (Soups) and Broths are “what we specialize in the most,” what Go-san takes the most pride in.

Tonight, he presents Live Dungeness Crab that’s been de-shelled, mixed with its own Kani Miso (Tomalley) and steamed.

Taking a sip…

Like the lightest, cleanest Consommé you have ever tasted, but made with Fish and Konbu (Kelp), you feel like you’re drinking a heart-warming soup that’s actually nourishing your soul. The Live Dungeness Crab Ball is so naturally sweet in its freshness, with a bit of pleasing contrast with the Kani Miso adding a touch of earthiness in the background.

It is stunning, and world-class. No one is making Dashi at this level in L.A. :heart: :heart: :heart:

Chatting about various ingredients Go-san likes to use, he says his favorite Fish is Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch). Little did we realize how prescient this might be until a few courses later.

Mukozuke (or Otsukuri) Course - Tai, Inada, Uni - Sea Bream, Baby Yellowtail, Sea Urchin Sashimi (Kagoshima | Kagoshima | Hokkaido, Japan):

Initially it might look like simply presented sliced pristine Fish, and while that’s part of it, it is so much more than that. It starts with the Fish of course: The Tai (Sea Bream) is immaculate:

But it’s that interplay of accompaniments that are presented along with the Fish that makes the Mukozuke course stand out even more: The freshly grated Wasabi lends a delicate sweet, rooted, light spiciness (nothing like the mass-produced Wasabi that is nostril-searing). But instead of Shoyu (Soy Sauce), Go-san recommends we try it with just a touch of the Sea Salt from Shizuoka.

It is stunning. :heart:

A bit of the Inada (Baby Yellowtail) with some Myoga (finely shredded Japanese Ginger Shoot), or with some of the Shiso Leaf, and it’s equally interesting and wonderful.

The Hokkaido Uni is flawless! Zero bad oceanic aftertaste, pure sweetness! And enjoying it with just a bit of the Raw Nori (Fresh, unprocessed Seaweed (which is usually Dried / Roasted)) just adds a pleasing complementary taste to it all. :heart:

(Limited) Tedorigawa - Mangekyo “Kaleidoscope” - Daiginjo Sake (Ishikawa, Japan):

From excellent Japanese brewer, Tedorigawa, makers of one of the best QPR, excellent Sake currently, Kinka “Gold Blossom” Daiginjo Nama Sake, comes their rarest Sake, Mangekyo, which is limited to around 400 Bottles a year(!) according to Go-san.

Taking a sip…

Like the revelation you had when you took a bite of Langer’s Pastrami Sandwich for the first time; or had your first bite of Grade A5 Wagyu Beef from Japan; or experienced Bun Bo Hue (Beef Noodle Soup from Central Vietnam) at Ngu Binh, I thought to myself, “Ah! This is what real Sake tastes like!” :astonished: :heart: :blush:

I could use adjectives to attempt to describe this taste, but I would be doing it injustice. But in a feeble attempt, Mangekyo has this almost elusive aroma, when you just think you might detect what fruit or other analog it might be connoting it vanishes and just refreshes your taste buds. It is cool, so crisp, so clean, so stunning that it is simply the best Sake I’ve ever tried so far! :heart: :heart: :heart: (@J_L @Sgee @A5KOBE @BradFord @TheCookie and other Sake lovers, do not miss this!)

Thank you again @beefnoguy for such a great recommendation! :blush:

Mushimono Course - Steamed Abalone, Abalone Kimo (Liver) Sauce, Abalone Broth Jelly:

Simply steamed with a high quality Sake and Water, Go-san explains that the Awabi (Abalone) has so much umami inherent within that it’s important to highlight that aspect and put it front and center. There’s a satisfying meatiness and chew, but it is still tender and stands on its own for flavor.

However, the Awabi Kimo (Abalone Liver) Sauce is the standout. Chef Go is getting better and better: On this visit, the Kimo Sauce is so refined, it just hints at the deep funkiness associated with “Liver,” but has been cooked and reduced with Seaweed and other flavors to create a concentrated liquid that is so savory and umami and enticing, I am not ashamed to say I picked up the plate when no one was looking and quickly licked the Sauce clean. :sweat_smile: It is THAT good! :heart:

Yakimono Course - Binchotan Grilled Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch) + Renkon (Lotus Root) (Ishikawa, Japan):

And just a few courses later, after Go-san had been lovingly talking about his favorite Fish, his beloved Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch) appears as part of the Yakimono (or Grilled) course. :smile:

Chef Go explains to us that these days, Nodoguro is more expensive than Toro (Fatty Tuna Belly)(!). :open_mouth: But he loves it more than Toro as well because it has the best aspects of Toro, but also exhibits a leanness and pleasing texture and taste that is unrivaled.

Taking a bite…

Absolutely Out Of Control Ridiculous! :heart:

Perfectly crisped outer Fish Skin, given that wonderful roasting to allow you to eat and enjoy a bite with a crispiness that is incredible! But then you get the Nodoguro meat:

I already fell in love with great Nodoguro Sushi with Maru-san at Mori Sushi (it is incredible when eaten at the height of its season!), but here, presented as Grilled form, Go-san cooks it so it’s just cooked through, and there is a real lusciousness from the natural fattiness in this Fish, but it’s not just all fat like it is with Ohtoro. Instead, you also get a supple, silky yet lean bite as well. The balance of lean and fatty, the crisped Fish skin, and wonderful, gentle smokiness from Japanese Binchotan (White Charcoal) makes this one of the Best Bites of the Evening (and Best Bites for 2019)! :heart: :heart: :heart: (@PorkyBelly)

Oh but it gets better: As mentioned before, while we’ve seen a version of this dish last year, Go-san is improving (which is pretty incredible to think about). Taking a page from world-class, early Saison perhaps, the Grilled Nodoguro is also now presented with Slow Grilled Renkon (Lotus Root). Unbeknownst to us, as soon as we arrived, Go-san quietly and carefully placed a piece of seasoned Lotus Root on the embers of the Binchotan grill. And he let it sit there, cooking low and slow (just like some of Saison’s dishes on their open hearth fire).

So what you are served is roughly a 45 min to 1 hour slow roasted / grilled piece of heaven also known as Renkon. It is cooked down to the point of real tenderness, but still retaining its inherent density in some way, but much softer than usual. There’s a caramelization that’s happened, it’s smoky, sweet, savory and probably one of the best Lotus Root preparations I’ve ever had! :heart:

The Tedorigawa Mangekyo Sake pairing was spot-on. So wonderful! :heart:

Kisu (Whiting) Tempura - Kisu + Fava Bean Ankake Dashi:

Perfectly fried. Incredibly crispy, airy and light, no oiliness. Go-san’s frying skills have improved since our last visit as well (and it was already great)! I love going to Inaba for great QPR Tempura fried to order at their Tempura Bar, but Hayato’s Tempura is on another level entirely.

The Fava Bean Ankake Sauce and Tokyo Negi (Green Onions) round things out to create a tie for Best Bite of the Evening! :heart: :heart: :heart:

The Sake pairing with Mangekyo was incredible! :slight_smile:

Omigyu - Grade A5 Wagyu (Omi Beef) (Shiga, Japan), Bamboo Shoot and Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Spinach) Shabu Shabu:

While Grade A5 Wagyu is becoming more commonplace, Omigyu (Omi Beef) from Shiga, Japan, is considered by many to be one of the upper tiers of Wagyu, up there with True Kobe Beef from Kobe, Japan.

The Grade A5 Omigyu just melts in your mouth, there’s a real almost buttery, gorgeous flavor and texture from this just poached Omi Beef. Truly outstanding! :heart: :heart:

And as before, the Mangekyo legendary Sake pairing was probably the best of the night here, matching the A5 Omigyu flawlessly! :heart: :heart: (@beefnoguy @A5KOBE)

Chinmi Interlude - Konoko (Fermented Sea Cucumber Ovaries):

This is a momentous occasion when Hayato arrives as the 2nd restaurant in L.A. serving legit, made-from-scratch Chinmi (which are sort of like rare delicacies or salted little seafood “snacks” (as Go-san calls it)).

It doesn’t sound like much nor look like much, but this is a flavor explosion! :open_mouth: Like a wonderful ocean breeze, beautifully funky, totally different on the palate than the previous courses, and just stunning! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Gohan (Rice) Course - Grilled Sawara (King Mackerel), Kinome, Sansho Pepper Leaves Rice:

And the main course, the Rice dish this evening features Grilled Sawara (King Mackerel) over a made-to-order fresh pot of Steamed Rice with Kinome (Sansho Pepper) and Sansho Pepper Leaves.

The Sawara Rice is incredible. Lightly smoky, delicate Grilled King Mackerel is mixed with the perfectly cooked Rice. The Steamed Rice is toothsome and pleasing, the flavors are on point, and the Miso Soup and Pickles match perfectly. Just so tasty! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Dessert Time!

Sencha + Matcha Green Tea:

Harry’s Berries Organic Gaviota Strawberries, Kinako Cream:

We’re a bit spoiled, being able to enjoy Harry’s Berry’s from our local farmers markets, but there really is no rival for greatest Strawberries around here. If you’ve never tried Harry’s Berries Organic Strawberries before, they are the best of the best for a reason. Restaurants from the East Coast have tried to figure out how to ship them fast enough to their restaurants to serve fresh.

While not at the pinnacle of the season yet, the Gaviotas are very sweet, aromatic and fresh as you’d expect from Harry’s Berries. The Kinako (Roasted Soybean Flour) Cream is a nice match with the Strawberries. Delicious! :blush:

Service remains excellent as there are only 7 seats, all in front of Go-san. Dishes are removed quietly and in a timely manner. Your Sake (or Beer) is poured and refilled without you having to touch the bottle.

Hayato has continued to improve over time, serving as L.A.'s premier, legit Kaiseki specialist. At the heart of it is Chef-Owner Brandon Hayato Go and the culmination of all his years of culinary experience, from helping at his dad’s Japanese restaurant growing up, to heading off to Japan and training with some of the most respected, top Japanese Master Chefs in Chef Hideki Ishikawa of Michelin 3 Starred Ishikawa in Tokyo, and Chef Takeshi Kubo of Michelin 2 Starred Goryu Kubo.

From Go-san springs forth amazing handcrafted dishes that are lovingly prepared and cooked just for you on your visit (there is only 1 seating, you have your seat for the entire night). You are treated to a masterclass in traditional Japanese dishes that are steamed, fried, grilled and more, reflecting all that is great for the season.

(inside ROW DTLA)
1320 E 7th Street, Suite 126
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 395-0607



insane meal, too jealous. Wish I wasn’t so broke :frowning:


Thanks @skramzlife. Have you been able to try Hayato yet? If not, definitely worth a visit. :slight_smile:

I have not been, hoping to go one day!

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LOL Tedorigawa Mangekyo Nama Daiginjo. You’ve gone so far #YOLO you can’t go back now! (Actually you can…once you discover the joys of Junmai haha).

It’s definitely cheaper than Kokuryu Nizaemon and Ishidaya which I am sure Hayato will qualify for getting from the same source. Though the Mangekyo is a bit less of a celebrity sake despite the Netflix documentary, still sought after regardless. I had Mangekyo about 3 to 4 years ago and it was absolutely stunning. It being a Daiginjo, is the perfect sake at a place like this…and see did I not call it for having it at the right place to enjoy it!?

Do you have pictures of the latest sake menu? Wondering if he made additional changes.

Thanks again for another stellar report, as always! Now with the star, I can only drool from afar…


Hi @beefnoguy,

I blame you! :cry: :stuck_out_tongue: :smile: I remember you mentioned Tedorigawa’s Mangekyo Sake a few times here and there, and then when Go-san mentioned he just got this rare Sake in for the restaurant, and that we’ve never seen it offered anywhere else in LA or SF recently, I knew we had to order it, at least once. :sweat_smile: (I am now prepared to eat instant ramen and lettuce for the foreseeable future.)

But it was worth it. It is so amazing… :heart: Thank you again for the recommendation!

Uh oh, how do the Nizaemon and Ishidaya compare with the Mangekyo?

Sake menu, yes, I’ll post it up later today. It’s grown a bit, but it still feels lacking compared to Maru-san’s (Mori Sushi) and Shunji’s Sake menu.

And you and @BradFord definitely have to try Hayato the next time you visit L.A.! A true treasure. :slight_smile:

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Not getting it :thinking:

Blackthroat Seaperch (Nodoguro)

Check its throat!! :crazy_face:

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Hi @Sgee,

Yah Nodoguro also has an alternate name in Japanese known as Akamutsu (“Red” something). English alternate name is Rosy Seabass, which seems more fitting. :sweat_smile:

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Hi @beefnoguy,

Here’s Hayato’s latest Sake menu. Please let us know if there are any other standouts you think would go well. (I’m glad they added Okunomatsu - Juhachidai Ihei - Daiginjo, which was my favorite at Raku. Go-san said he loved it with his food.)

@TheCookie I hope you get to try the Tedorigawa Mangekyo Sake one of these days, but I’m scared it’s ruined us to their “lesser” Tedorigawa Kinka. :sweat_smile: :cry:


Tasty fuckers


Ahhhhh I see now. Thanks!

Thanks for the sake menu!

A few things before I comment on it:

Tedorigawa is a Daiginjo, not a Junmai Daiginjo (True Sake got it wrong). It’s also an arabashri, first press “free run” sake and other Japanese sites mention the word “tobindori” which is synonymous with “shizuku” or drip sake. Okunomatsu Juhachidai is a drip sake, as is Kokuryu Shizuku (very limited) Daiginjo. The nama part may be also a bit of a misnomer as it looks like the nama is aged below 0 degrees C (up to -10) for 2 years, then is pasteurized by the time it gets bottled or perhaps is pasteurized in bottle, before release. While this was a very spectacular sake when I had it, if I drank it again now I may not feel the same way due to my current preferences. Was there a World Sake sticker in the back of the bottle? I would say this and the crab would be a great pairing, but I’d probably go for something else lower polished just to match the dashi.

Never had Nizaemon. Ishidaya is pretty damn luxurious, far more bold and masculine than Mangekyo. Cheaper than and far superior to Dassai Beyond, but not sure if it is worth $500++.

Hyogo prefecture has some really excellent seafood, glad to hear he is using aji from that region. I was there for a few days in February and the local oysters are out of this world, along with shirako, kawahagi, manta ray (their liver is very gamey but fun as izakaya fare) and other eclectic species of white fish that I don’t recall.

Dewazakura Yukimanman is really tasty. I was quite pleasantly surprised how nicely it went with ankimo, and it might even be fun to try with foie gras.

The grilled fish course would pair better with a Junmai or Junmai Ginjo, particularly something with higher acidity and fuller body or semi body and aromatic.

As far as the sake menu goes, for next time:

Start with Kyokusen, Miyosakae, or Minowamon.

Then Shimeharitsuru Jun for the rest of the meal, or Sohomare

If it were me, I would make quite a few changes based on his suppliers and get other things from their portfolio that would be better matches.

Though I’m sure this is also a fantastic place to bring high end aged white burgundy…I know a few of you others already do that there.


Hi @beefnoguy,

Thank you for the great info! :slight_smile: Yah I only saw Daiginjo on the Mangekyo, but then looking at True Sake it listed it as a Junmai. We also didn’t see Nama written anywhere, so I never mentioned it. So it’s not really a Nama? In that case would it be safe to order and ship? (And yes, there was a World Sake sticker.)

Thanks for the recommendations for next time, making a note. :slight_smile:

Have you ever tried the Asabiraki Junmai Daiginjo? It’s the same price as Dassai Beyond!

What about the Kubota Tsugu Junmai Daiginjo? Manju and Hekiju are more commonly found, but haven’t ever seen that one (not that we’d ever order it at that price). :wink:

You’re better off coming up here, picking it up and bringing it back with you, unless True Sake has a next day option. Not sure I’d risk a 2 to 3 day UPS ground transit in 90+ degree weather right now.

Not a fan of Kubota sake…Tsugu is good but not worth the money, even at wholesale cost.