Hatch Yakitori + Bar sits rather humbly on the ground level of The Bloc, an open-air shopping center in the heart of DTLA where patrons are on constant pursuit of the newest novelties in culinary achievement. Hatch delivers on all fronts, treating guests to meticulously fabricated dishes as innovative as they are beautiful, with other-worldly levels of flavor. It’s ‘so LA’ on so many levels, and somehow fits both young partygoers and nearby residents looking for a relaxing meal under one roof.
Hatch is certainly in good hands with Executive Chef and Owner Daniel Shemtob, who made his first national splash when he won the Food Network’s ‘The Great Food Truck Race’ and hasn’t looked back since. He’s joined by co-owners Akarad Tachavatcharapa and Nara Latip, whose collective marketing background birthed the restaurant’s tasteful layout.
At its core, Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken. Naturally, the foundation of Hatch’s menu is comprised of intricate compilations that somehow find themselves on a stick. Succulent pork belly and ahi tuna, herb-crusted lamb, and an oh-so-good chicken meatballs with an egg yolk and tare dip (you may not be accustomed to raw egg yolk, but will thank yourself for giving it a try) are some of the highlights, along with vegetarian favorites like brussels sprouts and corn grilled with lime butter.
Main plates further showcase Shemtob’s creativity and Hatch’s charcoal theme, like the signature and succulent black karaage (pronounced car-ah-gey)—two-day brined chicken fried in squid ink and served with black ranch dip. Or the aged ribeye and potatoes three ways, with wasabi mashed potatoes so fine that they may as well have passed through a coffee filter. A revolving list of house specials keep consistent with the team’s mastery of locking in flavor and presenting it beautifully, with scallop and king crab dishes that came out as works of art.
Somehow, Shemtob found a way to keep consistent through dessert as well. The simply fabulous grilled brownies topped with black sesame ice cream are an absolute must. Pair anything from the menu with a crafted cocktail—they all pack a punch—or beer or sake on draft.
Hatch Yakitori + Bar is located at 700 W 7th St Suite G600, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Open 5 – 10p Mon, 11:30a – 2:30p and 5 – 10p Tue – Thu, 11:30a – 2:30p and 5 – 11p Fri, 6 – 11 Sat and 6 – 10p Sun. Avg. Out-the-door price for 3 – 4 sticks, 1 plate, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$90/person. For more information visit HatchyYakitori.com.
Irvine’s TRADE Food Hall houses some of the OC’s most intriguing under-the-radar casual eateries, with concoctions like rainbow burgers blowing up Instagram on the reg. TRADE’s offerings are not limited to just the stalls that surround the venue’s central dining area, however. The entire complex sports a broad spectrum of new-age hotspots, with cuisines that span the globe. You’re not going to find too many places that cover this much ground with such modest price points, and the joy of TRADE is the ability to try a bit of everything across one sitting.
You’ll unquestionably be drawn to Hiro Nori, if for nothing else than the perpetual line out the door. Among Orange County’s premiere ramen destinations, Hiro Nori serves up something ridiculous in its tonkotsu ramen. That rich, creamy broth is like no other, with tender pork that melts off your chopsticks and thick, hearty noodles that pick up all the flavor. Don’t pass on that black garlic sauce, which gives everything a pristine smoky quality. Their shoyu ramen is another masterpiece, and Hiro Nori rounds it out with a selection of bowls and Japanese fusion small plates. Is it worth the hour wait? The answer is with the beholder, and there’s only one way to find out. HiroNoriCraftRamen.com
Around 100 paces down the lot is KRISP, a modern café that serves up premium coffee, gourmet juices, and a variety of healthful entrees. KRISP’s menu epitomizes the millennial palate, with avocado toast galore amidst a slew of matcha-based drinks…and foods [matcha brownies anyone?]. They also spice things up, literally, with worldly goodies such as masala chai. You’ll inevitably find 20-somethings making the place their home for the day, working on their startup or the next great screenplay. KrispFreshLiving.com
If dessert is what you’re looking for, look no further than Sweet Combforts, back in TRADE Food Hall’s central hub. True to its name, Sweet Combforts specializes in chocolate-dipped Belgium Liege waffles, pressed with the honeycomb pattern that waffles had back when they were first created. They use pearl sugar to give their waffles an unreal texture, not to mention some crazy topping combinations. The churro crunch, complete with cinnamon toast crunch and a cream cheese drizzle; and the cookies and dreams, with Oreo cookie butter, Oreo crumbles and white chocolate, will put a sweet cap on just about anything. SweetCombforts.com
Hiro Nori, KRISP and Sweet Combforts are located at 2222 Michelson Dr., Irvine, CA 92612. Hours and prices vary, but expect lunch and dinner service 7 days a week and to leave spending less than $20/person at each venue.
Chaya Venice has proudly become CHAYA Modern Izakaya. What began as a humble teahouse in the 17th century has grown into a dining empire, expanding into the US nearly 40 years ago, and is continuing to evolve with its new identity, complete with a fresh look and reinvigorated menu.
Similar to a Western gastropub, a Japanese izakaya is traditionally a drinking establishment which serves small tapas-style plates for sharing. CHAYA Modern Izakaya further bridges the gap between Japanese and American dining with Japanese-Californian cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits, Japanese Whisky, eclectic sake and wine, and Japanese and local craft beers.
The chef team—Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino, Executive Chef Joji Inoue and Kaiseki Chef Katsuyuki Wako—have a deep background with CHAYA, Japanese flavor and innovative culinary prowess. The trifecta properly bridges Eastern philosophy with Western techniques, utilizing local seasonal ingredients, with sky-high quality standards for seafood, poultry and meats.
CHAYA’s menu features exotic delights across a broad range of categories, from the chrysanthemum salad to grilled octopus and wagyu chazuke. Sushi is unquestionably essential at CHAYA, with rolls and hand rolls that take you across the Pacific. Guests can also experience daily omakase menus at the Kaiseki chef counter, which replaces the old Chaya’s raw bar as a focal point for chefs to showcase their talent.
An eclectic bar adds to CHAYA’s modern appeal, enhancing the restaurant’s social element by allowing guests to congregate over an extensive sake collection, as well as a strong lineup of Japanese whiskies and Western favorites that make for excellent hand-made cocktails.
CHAYA Modern Izakaya is located at 110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291. Open for Dinner 5:30 - 10 p.m. Sun – Thu, 5:30 - 11:30 p.m. Fri – Sat. Happy Hour from 5 p.m. to close. For more information, call call (310) 396-1179 or visit TheCHAYA.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.