Bar Hayama - dinner with fellow travbuddies!

Los Angeles Travel Blog

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View of the fire pit from the bar.

Last night, a small group of us travbuddies (sybil, mel, tracy and me) had a delightful time trying out a new restaurant - Bar Hayama.  Bar Hayama is a trendy sushi joint located in what used to be Sushi Sasabune (a highly respected, traditional sushi restaurant in LA that moved into larger digs a couple of years ago) at 1803 Sawtelle - and it is amazing what they have done with the previously nondescript space.  The new restaurant is a modern, zen-like space with a gorgeous, dramatic fire pit located in a patio surrounded by shrubs to shield the patrons from the outside traffic and noise.  The service is friendly and fun ... definitely lighter and less formal than Sasabune.

I arrived about an hour early (long boring story) so I sat at the bar and discovered the most yummy new sake - Hana Lychee, which is made right in Berkeley, CA!  (Check out their website - http://www.

takarasake.com/flavored-sake.php - so many yummy flavors to try - raspberry, plum, fuji apple ..).  Fortunately Sybil arrived early too, so we both hung out with Jonathan (super nice bartender) who kept us entertained with lots of rice crackers and wasabi peas, and tidbits about sake and male dating behaviour.  What started as a simple drink while we waited turned into a bottle of sake!  Let the good times begin!  :)

When Mel and Tracy arrived, we were promptly escorted over to the sushi bar before Chef Toshi - a jovial, skilled sushi chef who is the exact opposite of sushi nazis like Nozawa.  We all had the "omakase" (chef's choice) and each dish was unique, incredibly fresh and flavorful.  (As Chef Toshi carefully explained - don't say "omasaka" because that means "gay" .

Sybil and me with our little pre-dinner snack.
.. we still think he was teasing us, silly man).  Our food journey began with:

- Crab mean over a bed of marinated cucumber slices - incredibly sweet, succulent and fresh - lovely way to open up your palate at the beginning of a meal

- A trio of (i) toro (tuna) on a mustard based sauce and boiled spinach - sweet and spicy, then tempered by the spinach, very interesting! (ii) few sweet pieces of roasted pumpkin (that Chef Toshi proudly explained was in honor of Halloween) and (iii) albacore sashimi with asparagus

- Hamachi (yellowtail sashimi) with shredded pumpkin ... and maybe bonito flakes in some sort of peanut-based sauce - like an explosion of flavors that somehow enhanced the freshness of the fish instead of overcoming it - very impressive

- tempura of crab or shrimp wrapped in shiso leaf in a light batter - very crisp, light and yummy

- spicy lobster roll - very fresh with a hidden bite of spice that creeps up on you

- toro sashimi - so red and fresh!

- crab cake - so sweet and light

- Unagi (broiled eel) - so delish - i think this was Mel's favorite!

- Desserts - tempura ice cream and chocolate souffle - sweet yumminess to end a great meal!

As we ate, each of us would take pictures of every single course.

Crab meat over marinated cucumbers.
  The entire staff thought we were hilarious and would help us take pictures (which means we'll each have the same blog!) - lol!  I think Mel got drunk off of one glass of lychee sake (so funny) ... but I'm not sure what that says about Sybil and me since we polished off about a bottle and a half.  :)  It was wonderful meeting new friends and trying out a great new place.  I'm sure I'll be back to try some of their little plates (kozura?) - and I hope we'll see our new friends soon!  good times!

martinikitty13 says:
of course not! we just have impressive tolerance! :)
Posted on: Oct 30, 2007
sybil says:
are we lushes? :D
Posted on: Oct 30, 2007
TRE69 says:
I had a great time meeting you and Sybil at Bar Hayama last night...man, the two of you together...perhaps it was the sake but you two definitely know how to have a good time. Here's to new friends and to future foodie outings...CAMPAI!
Posted on: Oct 30, 2007
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View of the fire pit from the bar.
View of the fire pit from the bar.
MMMM... my lychee sake with rice c…
MMMM... my lychee sake with rice …
Sybil and me with our little pre-d…
Sybil and me with our little pre-…
Crab meat over marinated cucumbers.
Crab meat over marinated cucumbers.
The trio of delights:  toro, pumpk…
The trio of delights: toro, pump…
Chef Toshi!  busy at work - look a…
Chef Toshi! busy at work - look …
Hamachi with pumpkin and bonito? o…
Hamachi with pumpkin and bonito? …
Tempura - crab wrapped in shiso le…
Tempura - crab wrapped in shiso l…
Spicy lobster roll.
Spicy lobster roll.
Toro ... amazing color...
Toro ... amazing color...
Crabcake on fancy swirls.
Crabcake on fancy swirls.
The entire gang - happy and well-f…
The entire gang - happy and well-…
Unagi on cucumber shreds and rice.
Unagi on cucumber shreds and rice.
Tempura ice cream...mmm
Tempura ice cream...mmm
Chocolate souffle...double mmmm
Chocolate souffle...double mmmm
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