A hero has come to Westwood – Hakata Izakaya Hero. Under the guidance of Chef Hiro, this Japanese pub/tapas bar churns out small plates that pair perfectly with beer or sake.
Hakata Izakaya Hero replaces Necco on Westwood Blvd, and on a Monday night (usually a slow night for dining out), every table was taken in the small restaurant, a good sign. Chef Hiro was in the open kitchen bustling about, seemingly a one man show (except for one other that I could see in the kitchen).
The handwritten menu was a few pages long, with daily specials listed on the first page.
We started with a couple of Sapporo drafts – a bargain at $3.90 each.
Since I was dining with a pescatarian, we focused on the non-meat dishes like the spicy tofu, which had just the faintest amount of heat.
The garlic ponzu mushrooms were tasty and almost meat like.
Fried chicken is one of my favorites, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat some karaage. The dark meat chicken was crispy, juicy and flavorful – the perfect accompaniment to that beer.
The housemade gyoza were petite little bundles, which my daughter immediately devoured.
I also ordered the fried ramen for her. I had imagine a yakisoba dish, but instead an elegant bowl was set upon the table with thin noodles sitting in a thick sauce with some pickled gingers, scallions and sesame seeds. The ramen was slightly salty, but I must admit that all three of us eagerly emptied the bowl of its contents.
The weakest dish was the black cod tempura – the deep frying overpowering the delicate meat.
Service is attentive and friendly. As busy as he was, Chef Hiro made sure to come by the table to see how we were enjoying our meal. Judging by the quality and presentation of the food, you can tell that he truly cares about his guests’ experience. Hiro’s Hero is the neighborhood izakaya that I never knew we were missing until it was here.
Location – 1929 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Website – n/a
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes