Hakata Izakaya HERO: A Pictorial Essay

This post is about my patio experience at Hakata Izakaya Hero, so I thought I would revive this original thread, rather than post on the rice barber thread.

Hakata Izakaya Hero is the best izakaya in LA right now.

Hiro Chiya is an izakaya veteran that came to the States to enjoy surfing after playing professional (or semi-pro?) soccer in Japan. Before venturing out on his own with Hakata Izakaya Hero, Hiro was the guy behind the scenes at Izakaya Hachi and Manpuku Japanese BBQ. After leaving the Hachi/Manpuku group a couple years back, Hiro briefly worked at Urasawa. This is all to say, the guy has pedigree.

Now at Izakaya Hiro, he is no longer beholden to a larger company (Hachi/Manpuku) or boss (Urasawa). He is calling all the shots and letting his passion and roots direct his cooking. And it shows.
All of the dishes that I had were absolutely delicious, service was excellent and prices were more than fair.

On our recent visit, we sat in the converted parking lot patio. There was maybe one other party besides us and some pickup orders. Leading me to believe that people still have not realized how awesome this place is.

First, Hiro’s wife, who was our server that day, encouraged us to try his Homemade Kimchi. This was a great start to the meal. Like a lot of Japanese kimchi, it tilts far more sweet and umami than sour like Korean kimchi.

Next, the reason we came: these huge creamy, delicious oysters!
After the first bite, we immediately ordered four more.
I want to call out Hiro’s homemade ponzu (seen in the second pic). I usually don’t put anything on my oysters except for a small squeeze of lemon, but I made an exception for Hiro’s ponzu. It was an excellent complement to the oyster.
First order:

Second order:

Assorted sashimi: Magurozuke, Torched Otoro, Black Snapper, some other type of snapper, salmon, Aori Squid from Oita, Saba, and SB Uni
I have only had one togo box of nigiri sushi from Shunji, but this sashimi was on par with that. This plate, minus the uni, is $45. A really great deal for top notch sashimi.

Fried shrimp coated in a sweet mayo dressing.
If you like ebi mayo, Hiro’s ebi mayo is the best version I have had.
A little pricey at $15 for this plate, but the shrimp are fresh and plump under there.
Eat while hot.

Tebasaki Chicken Wings
This was a riff on Nagoya-style tebasaki with just a hint of curry spice mixed in there.
Small portion, but this was on the happy hour menu. I think it was under $5.

Horumon Teppan
I didn’t see this on the English version of the menu, so you may have to ask for it.
Hiro has extensive experience dealing with offal from his time at Manpuku and his horumon is flawless.
Here the horumon is grilled up with cabbage, onions, green onions, and carrots in a kochujang sauce.
Comes out sizzling. Eat with beer.

We also got the Niratama. It is a simple egg and nira (garlic chives?) omelette topped with a sweet soy-based sauce and mayo.

Good people making good food with all their hearts. I love this place and I will be back to try their motsunabe verrrry soon.