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Jan 4, 2008 10:46 PM

Bar Hayama

A few 'Hounds and I braved the rain for Japanese tapas (called kozara, in reference to the small plates). I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting anything and I was really there more to meet up with people. But WOW that was good, and such a good value also.

Don't go in expecting the low-brow approach of izakaya plating. Bar Hayama is clearly trying to compete with Orris, not in terms of its menu but in terms of its approach.

Onto the food. In no particular order:
* Seared Ankimo - fans of Zo's ankimo gunkan-maki will find familiarity here, but it was actually given more of a foie treatment as it was served with a sweet sauce
* Tuna on Crispy Rice - guilty pleasure
* Breaded Shrimp Stuffed With Crab - a large piece of cooked shrimp tempura was butterflied with crab meat placed in between. Sounds great, though not as good as I'd like because the shrimp was overdone
* Salmon Sashimi - 'Mediterranean' style with olive oil
* Bluefin Tuna with Blue Cheese - A combo that seemed destined to fail but was addictively good. There was a generous amount of tuna served here.
* Yellowtail Sashimi with Wasabi Butter - honestly I think I forgot to try this one. Darnit.

And now the remaining dishes. I felt these were the top, so I saved them for last. (Well, the wasabi butter yellowtail could have, but you know...)

#3 Yellowtail Collar - grilled collar is still one of my favorites, contrasting the crunch of skin with the tender meat
#2 Grilled Squid - The squid was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was very delicious.
#1 Beef Tartare with Quail Egg - A great beef tartare. Everything was balanced, the texture was great with the toast point

The small plates concept is fun, and perfect for a second date, or even for a first date with someone you think is a bit adventurous. But everything still retains of patina of refinement. Most every item was $10, with each dish giving 2 people plenty to taste. For us, splitting each dish five ways was fine for almost every item. In the case of the ankimo and the bluefin tuna, the serving size was ridiculously good considering the cost, as the $10 dish seemed to offer about $20+ in total product. Five people, 10 items, 3 glasses of wine and 2 sake flights ended up with a bill of about $150 pre-tip.

We could have gotten away with ordering less, but honestly we were just so excited by the menu when we kinda got carried away. I definitely would want to go back to Bar Hayama. It's located in the old Sasabune space, and while there's valet parking, because it's far from the main portion of Sawtelle, there's lots of street parking.

Bar Hayama
11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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  1. good god. $30pp?? can't remember the last time i ran across such a bargain for quality food WITH drinks. i know where my next meal out is going to be...

    1. No! My secret go-to destination is out! Oh well, it was bound to happen.

      Seriously, this place is great. The lobster bisque is out of this world.

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.

        I was the one who suggested Bar Hayama last night based partly on your rec for the lobster bisque and so we could enjoy the fire pit! Sadly, the bisque wasn't on last night's menu and obviously the weather prevented us from enjoying the fire pit. I definitely have to go back when it's I can do both. The value for the amount of food and drink was awesome.

      2. sauce! sounds like you had fun. i've only been to hayama once, but and thought it was pretty cool. too bad it was raining though; my favorite feature of the place is the big outdoor stone pit bonfire that you can dine in front of. it's as though everyone sits at a bar, where the dancing flames of the underworld are the bartender. what am i babbling about? it's late. but glad you liked hayama!

        1 Reply
        1. re: rameniac

          They did have the fire pit going last night, which was enough to illuminate the patio and show us that, in fact, somebody's deal with the devil brought rain down from the Pacific Northwest down to Los Angeles.

        2. Great company and fab meal, I enjoyed every bite! I too went in with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

          Also, I must give a special shout out to our waiter, who was quite possibly the most unintentionally amusing server I've ever had. Sorry I missed dessert!

          1 Reply
          1. re: hrhboo

            Orris was closed. We went to Al Gelato for some ice cream and pie. They dimmed the lights and then played Happy Birthday on the speakers for the birthday girl and put a candle in her sundae.

          2. You are luckier than I. I tried to brave the rain and went to Bar Hayama on Sunday evening to find it was closed. I was pissed off. I will be back on a Saturday.

            5 Replies
            1. re: jlrobe

              A lot of Japanese places that prominently feature fish on the menu will be closed on Sundays. I've had to learn to get my J-fix by going to a noodle shop or a yakitori on those days.

              1. re: SauceSupreme


                The sushi restaurants close on Sundays, but I thought bay hayama was an izakaya?

                1. re: jlrobe

                  A lot of izakayas close on Sundays, too. Bar Hayama really is sort of a hybrid between a sushi bar, an izakaya, and whatever you call Orris.

              2. re: jlrobe

                Go on a weeknight - even better. The seafood is fresher Tuesday through Friday (as with all seafood establishments with no live tanks).

                The telephone can be great. Call before you go to make sure it's open.

                1. re: J.L.

                  "The telephone can be great. Call before you go to make sure it's open."

                  You are right. In LA, before I leave the house I usually write down 8-10 phone numbers to call museums, stores, nightspots, and restaurants. I live near PV, and it takes awhile to get to the fun part of LA. I have learned to almost always call ahead. Especially on Sundays, since almost everything in town (except the malls) closes down.

                  I got a new internet service for my cell phone, so now I can look up numbers while im out, but the web service is a bit spotty. I need an I-phone!

                  Anyhow, now I know that bay hayama is a sushi restaurant. I didnt know that before.