30 August 2013
Aside from my favourite restaurant in the world, Il Grano, I always make a point to return to another of my favourites whenever I am in the Los Angeles area, Hakata Yamaya. It’s a no-frills Japanese BBQ that does excellent horumon — or offal. My readers know I love offal, so this was a natural place for me to frequent (the review of my last visit here).
I made the drive down to Torrance on a Friday night and I was seated after a short wait. I was happy to be back. It was not very hot outside (despite it being hot during the day), so sitting next to a burning furnace wasn’t as bad as you may imagine. The flame was so hot, btw, that my tongs snapped and I singed a bit of arm hair during the dinner… All worth it tho!
I began my feast with a nice mug of beer and one of their specialties, raw sen-mai (3rd stomach).
Excellent snack in sesame oil, chewy and tasty. I rather eat these raw than cook them, as the cooking does very little to change the flavour of this offal. I didn’t touch the dipping sauce, as the flavour was nice enough. After this, as the grill got hot, the first set of dishes arrived.
I had ordered the harami, or skirt. Also, of course, was a large selection of vegetables (onions, cabbage, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumbers, etc) to last me the rest of the evening. The skirt was very tender, didn’t need much seasoning. Excellent.
I also ordered some giara, or the 4th stomach. The staff sent me some more beef on the house, which was nice. They remember me from previous visits, as I do tend to feast here quite heavily.
The giara were chewy and tasty, and are quite solid pieces of tripe. I really do enjoy these offal feasts! Again, little extra flavouring is needed from the sea salt and peppers they season these with. Excellent.
Took a wee break, had more beer, and embarked on the second round. This started with the kalbi and the tongue.
The kalbi, or rib, was rich and amazing, needing only seconds on the flame to sear. The tongue, also extremely tasty, needed not much more time to not overcook it. Both were fantastic, again, needing only a touch of sesame soy sauce to add to their excellent flavours.
I then had a last run of offal, the mino, or 1st stomach.
These were very solid pieces, and had a excellent taste with just a tad of sesame soy flavouring. It was a very good way to end a meal. However, I needed a dessert, and what better dessert than mentaiko?
I enjoyed these spicy pollock roe as a last treat, helping me finish my last beer. Again, I was the last one out, and I told them I’ll be back next time I’m in the Los Angeles area. It’s an automatic. It’s pure, unpretentious and laid-back. Perfect.
Even for those who don’t like offal this place has plenty to offer, from the finest cuts of beef, pork and chicken, to many other seafood dishes and hotpots. But for those of us who love beer and offal, you really can’t beat this place.
In fact, I haven’t done my laundry since I got back to NYC, and I can still enjoy a last whiff of Hakata Yamaya on my shirt…mmm… Awesome, can’t wait to return…
2529 Pacific Coast Highway