Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Heading to Hayashi in Our Neck of the Woods

27531 Puerta Real
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I can finally report that Katie has gotten a new job, which was something that was much needed after the rather adventurous year and a half she spent at her old one. Even better than getting away from that place, she now only has a block and a half away commute. No more toll road fees, filling up with gas every few days, and the usual wear and tear on her car. As an added bonus, she even got a restaurant tip right near where we live, as they had food brought into the office during her first week. She was so impressed we had it for dinner that evening.

Hayashi has been here a lot longer than we have lived here. Their first Yelp review is dated from 2008, but they do not get too much love from Yelpers because they only have 156 reviews in those ten years. Not surprising since they are in a shopping center that is hidden behind the Kaleidoscope, and there's not a big anchor store to bring people into this shopping plaza. There is some construction going on at the vacated Sports Chalet spot, which I've heard is going to be a Mini Target, but it was not listed on the Target website, and I have nothing to confirm this other than a little hearsay that I've picked up on.

Whatever goes in here will hopefully increase foot traffic, although it does not appear that Hayashi really needs it based on our visit. On the recent Wednesday evening when Katie and I visited Hayashi, the two-man culinary team behind this restaurant handled numerous to go orders and a handful of orders for dining in with ease.

The low key dining room is small and has about ten or so tables of two, which probably get filled up with the numerous working professionals that inhabit the plethora of office buildings nearby. The menu at Hayashi is surprisingly large. They offer teriyaki plates and bowls, bento specials, over 20 varieties of sushi, noodles, and combo meals. 84 numbered things to choose from, direct from a very small kitchen. Very impressive. We quickly made our choices at the register, and about ten minutes later we were digging in. Let's see if I had the same love of this restaurant that Katie had when she had it at work.

Not really too cold outside, but Katie started things off with this Chicken Ramen ($6.50). She loved this soup that came out lava hot in a metal bowl which did little to cool it down too quickly. She claims that this had a tinge of spiciness, the chicken was flavored well, and she loved the rest of this bowl enough to come here two other times after this visit to have this for lunch. You can say she's addicted.

Not content with just the soup, Katie also feasted on this Philadelphia Roll ($7.50). This Philly roll comes with you guessed it, cream cheese, along with some salmon, cucumber, and avocado. I'm not too big of a fan of cream cheese, so Katie had this all to her self. She enjoyed this as well, called the fish very fresh, and found it to be the perfect accompaniment to the chicken ramen.

On my first visit to Hayashi I used the same strategy I use when eating in a barbecue or Mexican restaurant, getting a combo meal, and at Hayashi, that equivalent would be this BBQ Beef Bento Special ($9.25). I like doing this so you get to try more of their menu all in one shot. This Bento special included 4 pieces of a California roll, a scoop of rice, miso soup, mixed green salad, 2 gyoza, and a choice of salmon, tempura, or what I ended up getting the BBQ beef. The beef was good and tender but would have been better if it was served a little warmer than it was and with more teriyaki sauce on it. Unlike a few Yelp reviewers, I found my California roll to be freshly made with plenty of crab and avocado inside the outer rice casing. I remember liking the gyoza, but they were not overly stuffed, which left the insides kind of forgettable. The salad was actually pretty good with a very flavorful ginger dressing where a little of it went a long way. The weak link of this plate was the miso soup, but I've never been blown away by any miso soup I've ever had, and that held true here.

Katie ended up loving her visit to Hayashi, while I liked it enough, but would come back again since it is so close to our place and will be convenient for dinners when we want to stay close to home. Hayashi is not really destination dining, but good enough if you are in the area and are craving quick and affordable Japanese cuisine. Service was a little rushed because they were a bit busy with only two people running this place, and a steady stream of customers filtering in. Still, they were polite and in control, and getting the food out in a timely manner. I'm so happy Katie finally has a great work environment, and it already lead us to another spot that will be in our heavy restaurant rotation when we want to stay close to home.

Out of five cabins, (because Hayashi is a Japanese surname which translates to forest or woods, and there are tons of cabins in forested areas), five being best to zero being worst, Hayashi gets three cabins.

Hayashi has a very bare-bones website up, but you can find their address and a menu on it here: http://hayashi.mysite.com/

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