Bar Hayama Los Angeles Reviews
Oct 29, 2007
So I left my home in Silverlake to pick up mellemel8 from her mum’s place in Glendale. Due to the time in the evening we both knew that downtown traffic was bumper-to-bumper so I opted to take the side streets from the Eastside to the Westside. As we drove down Santa Monica Blvd, mellemel8 was amazed that certain clubs she used to frequent, way back when, were still open and happening. We both reminisced our clubbing days in Hollywood. AAHHH…good times! Before we knew it was almost 7:30 pm, our reservation time, and foolishly neither one of us had iheart2travel’s cell number. Luckily I had the number of Bar Hayama which mellemel8 called to inform our party that we were tardy but on our way.
With mellemel8 as my navigator, we quickly located the restaurant due to it Japanese like architecture. The West LA area is notorious for its lack of parking and for its active parking patrol, but we easily found street parking…maybe since it was a Monday.
From the street Bar Hayama was pretty obscure. Its dark mustard yellow exterior gave it a very humble and ordinary look…not at all flashy. As we walked through its dark brown wooden gateway, the orange glow from the firepit blazed so brightly we could see and feel its warmth from behind the tall decorative hedging. The firepit is surrounded by a bar where patrons are welcomed to dine. The firepit was shielded from the hustle and bustle of the street by the aforementioned decorative hedging as well as a surrounding wall.
Mellemel8 and I hadn’t even stepped through the doorway when we were greeted cheerfully by the hostess and other staff members. At the left side of the foyer was Bar Hayama’s dining area which opened out to the firepit dining area. Also to the left was the bar where iheart2travel and martinikitty13 were indulging in their new alcoholic find…lychee sake. We greeted each other with hugs and handshakes then made our way to the right of the foyer and sat at the sushi bar. The interior areas of Bar Hayama were decorated very simply and cleanly with a modern flair.
Manning the sushi bar was Bar Hayama’s Executive Sushi Chef…Chef Toshi Sugiura. With a sushi master preparing our food, we all opted for the omakase service or chef’s choice.
Hana Lychee Sake – a very sweet wine similar to a plum wine perhaps even sweeter…it was really good!
Crab Sunomono – Pieces of snow crab leg meat on a bed of Japanese cucumbers pickled in rice vinegar
The rice wine vinegar was too tangy and sweet which masked the saltiness of the crab. I was too hungry I at all anyways…can’t let crab go to waste!
Bite-Sized Trio – On the left was tuna topped with honey mustard sauce over blanched spinach. In the middle was a chunky acorn squash mash dotted with raisins. On the right was seared albacore tuna with a decorative carrot disk and blanched asparagus tips topped with a pickled ginger “salsa”.
The honey mustard sauce was spicy and sweet and complemented the tuna surprising very well. I do not like squash or raisins but I managed to eat the middle dish by washing it down with lychee sake…I didn’t want to offend Chef Toshi…come on we all saw that episode of Seinfeld and the soup nazi! The ginger “salsa” put a zing to the seared albacore tuna…very tasty.
Slices of Japanese amberjack (yellowtail or hamachi) topped with softened white onions and finely shredded acorn squash and served with what tasted to me like a miso-ginger sauce.
I ate a slice of hamachi with a bit of onion and acorn to taste the entire dish in a single bite. It had different textures which was fun to eat. The sauce and the fish tasted great together…the rest…left it on the plate.
Tempura…Bar Hayama Style – A piece of lobster tail and a piece of red snapper both wrapped in a shiso leaf (an herb related to mint) and coated in tempura batter and deep fried and sprinkled with I think Chef Toshi said powdered green tea extract.
Let me just say anything deep fried HAS to be good. This course was no exception. The coating was crispy and light…not oily. The lobster and red snapper were cooked perfectly so that they were tender and juicy. The green tea sprinkled on top was interesting and tasted tangy as if we squeezed a bit a lemon. I couldn’t taste the shiso at all.
Bigger Bite-sized Trio # 2 – 2 pieces of a cut lobster roll (lobster…can’t remember if it was spicy or not, cucumber, lettuce, carrot, and asparagus wrapped in nori and encased in sushi rice) and 1 piece of tuna sushi.
The cut lobster roll pieces were huge but I managed to fit into my mouth. Anything with lobster HAS to be good…right? The tuna was ultra red…very pretty and very fresh tasting.
Bar Hayama Crab Cake served with miso-ginger sauce, teriyaki sauce, and I think a thinned out crème fraiche or mayo sauce.
The plating of this dish was very decorative with the 3 sauces swirled on the plate. The crab cake was crispy and golden brown on the outside and still moist and juicy on the inside. When I cut into the cake with my chopsticks, I could see the steam released from the crab cake so I knew it was fresh out of the fryer. Simply Delicious!
Unagi or Japanese freshwater eel, broiled and served over sushi rice, julienned cucumbers and teriyaki sauce, I think, and sprinkled with sesame toasted seeds.
The unagi was cooked expertly…crispy but still moist. The sauce was a great complement to the fish. The rice was tasty as it was doused with sauce. The cucumber was plated just for color.
Desserts! – Chocolate soufflé served with vanilla ice cream and garnished with fresh fruits and tempura fried vanilla ice cream garnished with an edible orchid flower and fresh fruits.
Chocolate soufflé and tempura fried vanilla ice cream…need I say more!?! Well yes I can. The coating on the fried ice cream was way too thick and was too doughy if there were such a word! But it was sweet and I love sweets. The chocolate soufflé was yummy…warm, moist, and best of all chocolaty…a fine ending to a fine meal.
Chef Toshi was quite a character. Though he was focused on preparing our meal and other patrons’ meals, he was still very entertaining from posing for pictures we took of him to teaching us and joining us in a proper Japanese toast with lychee sake…CAMPAI!
The entire dinner was good fun! Most importantly, I got to meet two totally cool TravBuddies who love to eat as well as hang out with an old friend! There was never a dull moment. You could tell that iheart2travel and martinikitty13 have known each other for a long time…they were practically finishing each other’s sentences. Mellemel8 face turned red after 2 glasses of lychee sake. iheart2travel and martinikitty13 can definitely hold their liquor…or wine…or vodka…or in this case sake. We all were laughing ‘til our sides hurt. We were so loud but that was ok because the place was not packed at all. In fact I think the dining room with the bar was empty all night. Oh well, that just gave Chef Toshi more time to converse with us and show us his sushi-making skills.
Though the omakase service was pricey, the experience at Bar Hayama was well worth it. Next time, I’ll have to sit by the firepit and order off the menu.
Part of the To Live and Dine in L.A. travel blog
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Oct 29, 2007
This was a cute sushi bar. located in west los angeles. it is near santa monica blvd. where the cool clothing stores, cafes, and dance clubs are. similar to melrose blvd.
i went here with other travbuddies, tre69, ihear2travel and martinikitty13.
we all had "omakase" (chef's choice). Chef Toshi is founder the california sushi academy. we were fortunate to have him create our dishes.
yon choose to sit outside where there is a firepit. there is a big table where everybody can sit in one table to enjoy dinner around the fire.
inside the restaurant, on the left is the bar. they have a many different types of sake.
on the right is the sushi bar. where we sat and laughed and drank and be merry.
i recommend this sushi bar. the service was excellent, chef toshi was funny, the ambience is warm. i felt welcomed.
THE FOOD PICS ARE IN THE LA BLOG. NOT ENOUGH TO SHOW THE GOOD TIME I HAVE HAD WITH MY FELLOW TRAVBUDDIES :)
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