Chef Brandon Hayato Go is one of the culinary geniuses that LA is blessed with. His kaiseki meals of normal times were exceptional. He focuses on great ingredients and traditional cooking techniques (he learned from masters in Japan)…and show so much restraint that each dish becomes a magnificent creation…dishes that still evokes memories and when my brain recalls them, I can taste them in the back of my mouth. During the Hayato’s soft opening in 2018, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to such an amazing meal…and it remains to this day, my favorite fine dining experience of all time. There is an incredible amount of thoughtfulness to a meal at Hayato.
Hayato has really had to change their business model in quarantine times. They completely shut down for about 3-4 months. No amazing lunch bentos. No 7-seat counter dinner experiences. All reservations were cancelled.
Late during the summer, Chef Go and team decided to open back up to offer his outstanding lunch bento.
As he considered the future and the looming holidays, he wanted to create a takeout dinner experience. Something to align with Japanese osechi (meals eaten during New Year’s and celebrations). So he and his team tinkered and toiled in their kitchen.
The result of that work is an exceptional orizume experience that is picked up at 6PM from Wednesday - Sunday each week. It’s a lovely presentation that looks like a celebration itself. Sake is not included in the meal, but highly recommended if you enjoy sake (bonus: increased revenue in any form supports your favorite restaurants during these challenging times and allows them to be able to do more with higher margins).
The 2-tiered box is carefully packaged and includes a personal thank you from Chef Go; a menu gorgeously calligraphed by Hayato manager, Yuki; and insightful cards explaining the kaiseki meal, the cooking techniques, and how each of the dishes is made and why. It’s reminiscent of a dine-in experience where Chef Go explains each dish that he finishes preparing as he serves it.
This meal is meant to be shared between two hungry people up to a group of 4 (you’ll need supplemental food if you choose to share it with 3 other people). I shared with a friend and I was so stuffed that I wasn’t able to finish some rice and some sauces. My friend happily picked up my slack and we both needed a long siesta afterwards.
Steamed abalone with daikon
If you’ve been to Hayato before this is the abalone with liver sauce, but without the liver sauce
House made yuba, soy sauce ankake, wasabi
The yuba was silky smooth and I adored the fresh wasabi
Dashi ikura with yuzu
I was an animal and mixed the ikura into the rice dishes. It was glorious.
Saba with tosa zu jelly
If you love Chef Go’s bozushi, you’re gonna love this. Just add rice and it’s almost like sitting at the counter.
Figs in sesame “goma-ae”
I consider this the Asian PB&J. It was delightful and you really need the texture of the fig seeds.
Grilled Hokkaido scallop with nori sauce
These are the same scallops you get in the lunch bento (perfectly cooked and delicious), but with a super umami sauce that is spectacular poured over rice.
This uni has been cured in a way it almost reminds you of a gentle bottarga. It was so good!
Ni-iwashi (simmered Japanese sardine)
Sardines simmered in a sweetened soy sauce. Simmering has the skin plump up and give a lovely gelatinous finish that I adore. Pour this sauce over the rice, too!
Charcoal grilled aka mutsu, Awa fu “age-ni,” Kabocha “yose”, Umeboshi carrot, Japanese eggplant steeped in kombu dashi, kuromame
Lobster "uma ni, Japanese sea bream “tatsuta age”, Pickled hoshigaki rolled with daikon, Fried baby corn, Fava beans
Duck tsukune and shiso “hasami yaki,” Japanese turnip “fukume ni,” Ni-anago (simmered anago), Pickled myoga, Salted cucumber flowers
Shrimp shinjo and lotus root “hasami-age,” Grilled Maui onion with soy sauce, Gobo “fukume ni,” Satsuma sweet potato “chakin shibori,” Pickled cucumber with sesame and salt, Steamed lily bulb
Kinmedai snapper “taki-komi gohan”
The famed rice course at the end of the in-house Hayato experience. I had bites of this between dishes and mixed the ikura into this…I LOVED it.
Rice with super thin slices of fresh matsutake mushrooms on top. The mushrooms imparted a lovely and gentle umami aroma atop warmed rice. This rice was a great vessel for the remaining sauces from the box.
Highlights: anything with a sauce that could be used to pour over the matsutake rice, umeboshi carrot, fava beans, pickled ginger, any of the seafood dishes, squash
We spent about 3 hours reading the notes and trying each dish in between sips of sake.
I think I prefer the sweet potato from the bento to the darling little gyoza-shaped mash version in the orizume…it ate a little dry for me.
The knife skills shown in this box are ridiculous. Turnips that look like dumplings. Flower carrots. Micro-thin herbs for the rice. Those cucumbers!
It was an exceptional meal. Very reminiscent of the in-house experience that you’d get except you don’t get to chat with Chef Go. You will get to meet him at pick up. Just drive into the ROW and park right in front of the restaurant. I hadn’t seen him in quite some time so it was nice to catch up with him. He’s pretty excited to be able to share the orizume with everyone.
Please order this box (or the lunch bento) on the first of each month on Tock at 10AM. It released this morning at 10AM and was sold out within 25 minutes. Please order sake to pair with your meal. It was interesting to hear Chef Go comment on sake orders being able to help the restaurant do more and make additional margins. Also, soft opening has been limited to 3 boxes per day as the team is getting into the swing of things, but it’s very possible that Chef Go may increase it to 4 boxes in the near future. He’s feeling good about the direction the orizume is going in and will continue to tinker with the dishes.