KaGaYa | Little Tokyo | Los Angeles, CA
For wedding Anniversary we decided to celebrate it at Kagaya, which according to online sources is apparently difficult to grab a seat. I called the day of for a reservation and I was able to secure a time. The infamous Chef Masa, was fined years ago for illegally importing wagyu beef from Japan…..So the beef must be good?
We both love Shabu Shabu/ Hotpot. It’s great comfort food, and we heard this is the best spot for the best Shabu Shabu in LA. We’ll be the judge of that.
Most of the reviews online complain that this place rushes you to finish so the next dinner can seat and that they are always booked. For us, this was not true, when we showed up, it looked like most of the seats were empty with loud tables behind us that must have been there for a few hours. This was around 8PM on a weeknight. Next door, the line for Sushi Gen was still going strong.
The restaurant is small, a few bar spots, and 3 tables. The first thing we noticed upon entering is the Seafood on ice. In the rear, you can see the meat slicer.
You have a few courses to choose from. The cheapest being a $51 Beef course, the $142 Premium Wagyu Course, and the Season Special Shabu Shabu, which on this day was fresh Seafood. The Seafood in the Seafood course is previously frozen and is $69.
We started off with this amuse Bouche, Sea Cucumber with Seaweed. An earthy pallet cleanser to prep you for the meal.
I’m sure there is some salt in here, Japanese Shabu Shabu is bland compared to Chinese Hotpot. Chinese Hotpot is generally as more Herbs, sometimes spicy oils, just flavor in general, while Japanese Shabu Shabu tastes more like water to me…..
We were given Green Tea. They were pretty quick on the refills. The Chef that runs the kitchen commands his team like a Captain.
You can see in the back the chef is slicing up the beef.
Back of the house.
Wanmori Bowl Soup: Eel Edition
Our second Amuse Bouche. This savory soup had some eel bits in it.
The other end of the bar
Here is the Chef prepping the last Amuse Bouche.
Last Amuse Bouche, Shiitake Mushrooms on top of some sprouts, with white fish in a ponzu sauce. The appetizers were okay, nothing too memorable, but well executed.
We went with one Seafood combo and one Premium Wagyu Combo. This is the seafood from the seafood combo, Alaskan Snow crab legs, oysters, and some clams. You can see the crab has been pre-cooked.
Each Combo comes with a plate of Greens and noodles.
Lots and lots of greens….
They provide you with two dipping sauces. To the left is the Sesame Sauce, and to the right is a ponzu sauce.
Since we are used to Beijing 涮羊肉 Shuang Yang Rou In which the broth is somewhat similar, the Sesame sauce is the main flavor ingredient in that dish, so it must be extremely high quality. Unfortunately, the sesame sauce they use here cannot compare with the quality of what we are used to.
In goes the crab legs.
The Premium Wagyu from our $142 combo. Isn’t it beautiful?
Marbling is perfect.
Cooking our greens
We cooked the Beef only for a few seconds. The Beef does melt in your mouth like butter. We tried various lengths of time cooking the beef, we found the best is to leave it in “medium rare” so it still has somewhat of a bite, if you cook it too fast, the beef has no texture and it doesn’t feel like you’re eating anything at all.
After you are done with the veggies and protein. They ask you if you want rice or udon. We went with udon. The Chef then took our hotpot broth, put it through a strainer, and poured it out into a new bowl.
Our newly strained broth.
At this point they give you cucumbers and pickled raddish.
Straining the Udon of water.
In goes the Udon.
The chef beats an egg and adds it to the hot broth.
In goes some pepper and scallions. You can see how the broth thickens with the addition of the egg.
The chef tastes the broth, using a little bowl of course, and then adds salt (or MSG?) to the mix to make sure it is on point.
This is the final product. The rice version is essentially the rice version of this, more like a congee. This will fill you up if you were not full from the meal.
I went with the Banana Ice cream on top of a creme brulee.
Bunny went with the matcha cake. We both agreed the Banana ice cream is better. The matcha cake wasn’t anything special.
I think Kagaya is not too bad, but for the prices you pay, I think it should be a lot better. Shabu shabu is comfort food, and the prices we paid for our meal was not comforting nor was the quality there. Yes, the Wagyu beef was well marbled and melts in your mouth, but I don’t think it is worth the $142 for a few slices of beef. I think I can find a lower, but almost the same quality beef from a Marukai Japanese Market here. The broth is like water, and the sauces, which is supposed to be the main focal point of flavor, did not make the cut. The appetizers and Rice/Udon dish did not feel that they are worth the premium. After tip and tax, we paid well over $270! We were full at the end of the meal, the vegetables, the appetizers, udon, and desert makes this a full meal. I don’t think we will be coming back.
418 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
♥ terrible, ♥♥ below average, ♥♥♥ average, ♥♥♥♥ good, ♥♥♥♥♥ excellent