Bar Hayama Restaurant Review (Los Angeles)
On Sawtelle, away from the long lines and commotion of popular spots like Tsujita LA and others, is Bar Hayama. Highlighted by a beautiful outdoor seating area, this bar offers four seating options and multiple menus worth of food. As a result, being seated and served takes far less time than eateries closer to Olympic. Still, as Hungry & Fit, the most important dining aspect is the food, but let’s take about what makes this fiery location worth a visit.
Atmosphere: Multiple dining options including the bar, the sushi bar, indoor tables, outdoor tables, and the bar surrounding the fire pit. This makes it friendly for families, couples, or the lone diner. Despite that, the restaurant is quiet and peaceful as contemporary mood music plays, which fits the restaurant’s fusion style. There are only televisions near the indoor bars as a massive fire pit and other accent lights keep your attention in the outdoor dining area. It really is a nice retreat and you can feel as if your party has its privacy.
Service: Unlike our past experience at Simply Pho, Hayama has lots of staff. We were helped to some degree by no less than five different individuals. The hostess cleans tables and delivers food. Our waitress was constantly checking in on us since we kept sampling small dishes from the happy hour menu. Our water was never empty for long, which is saying a lot with my habits, and no one was opposed to taking our order, no matter their role. There were no mistakes, no delays, and our waitress gave me her best effort at recommendations and answering questions, very politely and professionally.
Food: We ordered many dishes but were far from tasting everything on the menu. The menu, or menus, are rather extensive and offer everything from traditional Japanese cuisine to some fusion. Their basics (soups, salads, edamame) were all very good. Flavor was not an issue for nearly everything we ate. We were especially impressed by the tuna poke, fried oysters, tuna tartar, and spicy tuna over crispy rice. These dishes succeeded in blending multiple textural aspects with a mixture of rich and fresh flavors. I would recommend them all, but the highlight of the night and the reason we will return were the Sukiyaki tacos. I could just eat the meat alone, so I feel the rest of their sukiyaki options are also delicious.
To be fair, I was not impressed with their Hayama roll, a combination of spicy tuna and crunch. Even with the crunch it could not escape having a single texture for me, despite the rich flavors of the sauce. Also, the tonkatsu was a bit dry and the sauce was spicy but there was not nearly enough to make up for the large portion. The shrimp shumai had a shrimp taste but lacked a signature effect on the palette.
Overall, we would certainly return and would recommend this spot to anyone looking for a nice date night or a group that enjoys a large variety of Japanese options. It has healthy options, is affordable (especially during Happy Hour), has many dishes with both great flavor and texture, has signatures dishes that make the trip worthwhile, and offers tremendous service without unnecessary wait times. Sample the menu, don’t commit to any single large dishes, sit outside, and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing meal. And as always, stay hungry and fit!