The similarity between the Spanish tapas bar and the Japanese izakaya has been long noted — both are places where the cooking is subsidiary to the drinking, where immoderate consumption is both encouraged and facilitated, and where the portions are just big enough to get you through to the next glass. Yatai, a pleasantly sleek patio restaurant tucked away off the Sunset Strip, is a Japanese izakaya pretending to be an American joint pretending to be an izakaya, if you know what I mean, although the putative concept is Asian street food. (The only “street foods” you’ll find here are the sticks of satay and the deep-fried Japanese potato balls stuffed with bits of octopus tentacle.) The customers, most of whom seem to be Japanese-speaking hipsters, groove on the Indonesian gado-gado, the chicken dumplings with Thai curry, the samosas and the gooey, apple-spiked “Korean-style” sashimi as much as they do on the soy-paper sushi rolls and tempura. Yatai has the usual shortlist of soju cocktails and Pacific Rim wines, but there is also a nicely edited selection of cold sakes. I liked the Tomoju, which had a faint but distinct aftertaste of the wax lips you probably used to chew on as a kid.
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, American Express
Parking: Lot Available
Reservations: Accepted, Not Necessary