Hayato [Downtown Los Angeles]

Hayato is a Japanese kaiseki[2] restaurant from chef Brandon Go in the Row DTLA shopping center in Downtown LA. Some more info about the restaurant directly from the chef here. Hayato reopened for dinner service recently in mid June. It’s a bit difficult to get a reservation here, since they only have 7 seats and only one seating a night at 6:30. I signed up for their waiting list on Tock a few weeks ago and lucked out on an opening.

As one might expect with such a small nightly seating, the experience was quite unique and personal. All of the dishes were prepared by the chef and sous chef in front of us. Throughout the meal chef Brandon would talk a bit about each dish in detail, giving background facts about each, which was fun and enlightening. Especially for myself as I’m not very familiar with kaiseki in general.

Anyway back to the beginning. The meal started with a little sake as an aperitif poured by the chef into a pretty golden cup. Very nice and more on the sweeter side on the sweet-dry scale? I’m a sake noob. I believe this was the Dassai 23, a junmai daiginjo sake. I had a bottle of the Kobuta Hekiju sake with dinner, which was much drier, which I learned from the chef is typical of sake from Niigata prefecture. And my neighbors generously shared some of their sake with me as well, unfortunately I forget what bottle they had but it was quite a bit on the sweeter side. Please forgive me if some of the details of this meal are a bit hazy, a bottle of sake is a substantial amount for one person :woozy_face:

For the first course, a cold dish fit for summer. Eggplant that had been grilled and then chilled, still a little smoky from the grilling. This had some junsai in it, a plant (also called water shield - thanks Google) that produces kind of a gelatin like effect around it. Also there was some torigai - Japanese cockle, that had a chewy texture, and little cubes of ginger. A light and refreshing dish to start with.

Next, a fried dish - a kakiage - a bit like a mixed vegetable tempura in which multiple things are fried together. This was made of corn from Brentwood and also some scallop. This was great! Perfectly fried, with very sweet corn and scallops. It came with some salt on the side, and one could dip the kakiage into the salt and/or sprinkle some of the salt on top. I did both as the chef recommended.

Next came a very interesting looking dish. Some delicious spot prawns from Santa Barbara that had been grilled over charcoal, and okra. The jelly like stuff on top was a tosazu sauce that was a little sweet and sour IIRC. The little flowers are flowers of the shiso plant.

An aji (Japanese horse mackerel) sushi came next, where the sushi rice had some chives in it. Yum.

And then a ball of sweet dungeness crab from Oregon, floating in a really nice, subtle, light dashi with a baby turnip. So simple and delicious.

Next was some tai (Japanese sea bream) sashimi. Served with (R-L) freshly grated wasabi, shredded shiso leaf, ginger, and nori. With salt and soy sauce to dip. There was a brief discussion about how tai should be crunchy. The slices on the right were from farm raised fish, and the slices on the left were from wild fish (and were multiple times more costly). I think to give a sense of the differences between each. Anyway I thought both were delicious. The wild tai did seem to be a tad bit crisper and crunchier.

The next course was some steamed abalone, which tasted like abalone. It was served with some cubes of jellied abalone broth, wasabi, and a sauce made from abalone liver that was a little sweet and earthy. A bit like an abalone dish I had at Sushi Hide the night before.

Then, a piece of nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) that had been grilled over binchotan charcoal. Really delicious - the fish was cooked perfectly with a slightly crisped skin and I could taste some of the smoky flavor from the binchotan. Served with some chewy grilled lotus root that had maybe a sweet glaze applied to it.

Surf clam, and a white vegetable, with a bit of nuta sauce. Nuta sauce is a miso and vinegar based sauce. Cold and savory, a little sweet, and tangy.

I think this was the vegetable with the clam, unfortunately I neglected to write down what it was. Kind of tasted like a big white asparagus?

Next, amadai - tilefish. This was so good, great texture and flavor to the fish. It was served in a light and savory slightly gelatinous broth. The little things on top are actually the fried scales of the fish, which were very crispy and added a nice change in texture.

This was a couple pieces of cooked uni. The uni is cooked in a liquid that includes sugar, soy sauce, and mirin, and chef Go mentioned it shrinks by a considerable amount. This was quite good, tasted like a drier sweet concentrated uni.

Next, chef Go brought out a cool looking gas burner to prepare some shabu shabu. This had A5 beef, mushrooms, a leafy green vegetable that I don’t remember the name of, and some sansho pepper leaves. The beef was meltingly tender and the sansho pepper added a little peppery spiciness. Delicious light broth.


Followed by some slices of karasumi, described as a bit like bottarga and great with vodka. Delicious, salty and briny and with a somewhat soft texture. Pretty great with sake as well.

The final savory course in a kaiseki meal before dessert is typically a rice dish. Tonight there was more nodoguro featured with the rice. I think - I wrote down that this was nodoguro anyway. Seems like a luxurious choice.

Beautiful presentation of the rice before mixing.

It came with some artfully sliced pickles.

And a cup of a restorative miso soup.

And a cup of hojicha - green tea.

The bowl of rice after mixing. Great! I had seconds! Rice mixed with fish seems like a simple dish but you could really taste the quality of the lightly seasoned rice and the fish, which again was cooked perfectly.

For dessert, a simple dish of some sweet ripe strawberries from Harry’s Berries, topped with a light kinako (toasted soybean) infused cream. This Harry fellow grows some nice strawberries.

Here are some more of those sweet ripe strawberries on the right, and I forgot to write down what was on the left. Maybe some white peaches?

Also these little sweets. They tasted a little like meringue IIRC.

Finally, some matcha (powdered green tea) prepared by the chef, which had a nice bitterness and helped counteract some of the effects of the sake.

This was a really fun and delicious meal, and for me the highlight of this trip to LA.



Exceptional photography and definitely splendidly superbly wonderful food styling and quality of fresh fish without a doubt …

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That all looks and sounds amazing! Thanks so much for taking the time to take us along on such a wonderful experience. I love when you travel!


Wasn’t that one of the best meals ever? To this day, my favorite fine dining experiences of all time.


The gohanmono course at Hayato is definitely the highlight for me.

Never disappoints.


Thanks! Just a phone camera, the dishes were all so beautifully presented.

:blush: It was pretty amazing, I’m glad that you enjoyed reading the report!

Yes, most definitely. I don’t do fine dining often but this was very special.

It was a great dish, I think I could have polished off another bowl or two.

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Hi @Mr_Happy,

So glad you got to try Hayato! :blush: There were some classics that Go-san has been serving before, and new dishes as well. Looks lovely! :slight_smile:

And yes, that was definitely Nodoguro and Rice, stunning! :slight_smile:

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Cool, seems that since kaiseki reflects the seasons there would be different courses from time to time.

Ah, thanks for confirming!


Great report @Mr_Happy! :heart: Thanks for sharing!


Black Cod Saikyo Yaki, same Black Cod Saikyo Yaki as the Bento.


Thanks, whichever it was, it was delicious :yum: