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.
11300 Nebraska Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025