Yatai

I’ve been going to eat at Yatai for nearly as long as I’ve lived in LA — almost seven years. One of the girls in our group of friends went there on a date (or something akin to a date) and the rest is history. Literally, this place has become part of our history as friends. When we first started eating there, the restaurant was often empty. Over time, others have discovered the amazing happy hour and delicious food, and now Yatai is usually packed. We’ve even dined next to Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel…and watched Britney Spears awkwardly run into them at this tiny place (unfortunately right after her head-shaving incident). But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not stuffy or fancy or pretentious or even very hip. Yatai is the size of a decent living room, and in some ways, it feels like home — dark wood, rich reds, a postage stamp-sized outdoor patio where black-and-white movies are projected on the wall. We always order the same things: cold bamboo sake, edamame, miso eggplant, tempura pumpkin with curry salt, popcorn shrimp, California rolls and crispy rice with spicy tuna. Yatai was always our neighborhood spot, and even though most of us have moved around the city, it’s still our place, where we go to spend a few hours together, talking about everything. I’m getting sentimental…

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