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Last Saturday -- 7/7/07 -- must be a lucky day not just for brides and grooms, but for restaurateurs too: That’s when Bar Hayama opened on Sawtelle Boulevard in the space formerly occupied by Sushi Sasabune. Apparently things are going swimmingly there so far -- if the mood at the sushi bar last night was any indication. The fish were just about jumping, and the place was hopping.
Anyone who’s read Trevor Corson’s recent book ‘The Zen of Fish’ might fall off their chair when they get a load of the chefs behind the sushi bar. The head chef and owner -- center sushi bar -- is Toshi Sugiura, whose day job is president and CEO of the California Sushi Academy on Centinela. On the left is Zoran Lekic -- the school’s fearsome head instructor. We sat on the right, with Suryo Husodo cutting tuna and squishing rice for us. Husodo graduated from the academy last fall. Out in front, around a square bar with a fire pit in the center, a bunch of students from the school were merrily downing sakes and popping dried gourd rolls.
The tone at the bar couldn’t be more different than Sasabune. Sugiura-san plays the scary-fierce sushi chef, yelling ‘No soy sauce!’ at blood-curdling levels. But he’s a sweetheart, happy to mug for a snapshot, help out his former student with an order of iwashi (sardine) sushi or recommend a sake. Kanpai!
Bar Hayama, 1803 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 235-2000.
-- Leslie Brenner
Photos by Leslie Brenner