L.A. doesn’t suffer from a lack of great Japanese food. But in complexity, finesse, and sheer ambition, there’s nothing that quite matches what Brandon Hayato Go is doing at his shoebox-size kaiseki restaurant at downtown’s ROW DTLA complex. Go, who grew up making hand rolls at his dad’s sushi restaurant in Seal Beach, is unambiguous in his aspirations; he spent time apprenticing at chef-owned establishments in Tokyo, intimate spots that specialize in seasonal traditional cooking and, more to the point, rack up Michelin stars as if they were participation trophies. Clad in a white jacket, the solemn-toned chef now saddles up behind his own sanded cedar counter and proceeds to blow minds, preparing dishes like a delicate fritter of corn and Hokkaido scallop or dashi-boiled rice with seared barracuda and peppery mitsuba stems. Each course hypnotizes in its own nuaced way: Steamed abalone might appear with cubes of umami-bomb abalone stock, while silky cured mackerel is nestled with sushi rice in a sheet of flame-toasted seaweed. Even a minimalist dessert—ripe peaches in sake jelly—shimmers with flavor. 1320 E. 7th St., Ste. 126, downtown.
Quick Bites |Number of seats: 7 // Number of courses: 10 // Cost: $200