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Chef Duo Hopes to Make Japanese-Taiwanese Spot Into Hermosa Beach’s Next Dining Gem

Husband and wife team Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger bring fine dining chops to Ryla in the South Bay beach city

Chefs Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger of Ryla in Hermosa Beach in chef coats.
Chefs Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger of Ryla in Hermosa Beach.
Ron De Angelis
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Little by the little, Mike Simms and David Lefevre are helping to transform the culinary landscape of the South Bay, with three standout restaurants in Manhattan Beach and now an upcoming place in Hermosa Beach called Ryla. Behind the stoves will be chefs Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger, a husband and wife duo who got married in the past year, and come to Ryla with finer dining backgrounds. Hayashi was most recently the R&D chef of the Lefevre-Simms trio of Manhattan Beach restaurants: the Arthur J, Manhattan Beach Post, and Fishing With Dynamite. Previously, Hetlinger was a sous chef at Providence, Michael Cimarusti’s two Michelin-starred seafood tasting menu temple on Melrose Avenue.

Together, Hayashi and Hetlinger hope to open Ryla in mid-January 2022 with a Taiwanese-and Japanese-influenced California menu, leaning on Hayashi’s Japanese background and Hetlinger’s Taiwanese roots. Hetlinger is half-Taiwanese and was born in Taipei, while Hayashi is Japanese and grew up in the South Bay, itself one of California’s most notable Japanese communities in such cities as Torrance and Gardena. Peads and Barnett pork tonkatsu, soy-umeboshi roast chicken with baby bok choy, and ox tongue curry rice are just a few of the entrees to expect from the duo.

Other Westernized Japanese dishes include hambagu with mozzarella and shimeiji mushroom demi glace and chicken karaage with Nashville “hot” spice while a Taiwanese-style dish might be black truffle fried rice with Chinese sausage, egg, and scallion. The beverage menu should be up to par with Simms-Lefevre’s other restaurants, with a cocktail, sake, and Japanese whiskey list.

Ryla joins a steadily growing Hermosa Beach dining scene, with places like Fox and Farrow from chef Darren Weiss, Decadence, Steak and Whisky, Mosa, and Sosta Cucina joining the fray. According to What Now LA, Ryla will go into the former Laurel Tavern space on 1220 Hermosa Avenue, a busy stretch of restaurants and other retail shops just steps from the beach.