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A blonde wood dining room with glass block and tall ceiling plus cinder block walls, at a restaurant.
Yess in the Arts District.

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One of London’s Best Chefs Brings Smoke-Kissed Japanese Seafood to Downtown

Formerly a food truck, the Arts District’s new Yess is Junya Yamasaki’s ode to coastal living in Los Angeles and Japan

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

For years now, Downtown LA’s Arts District neighborhood has been seen as a proving ground for restaurants eager to push boundaries. Places like Bestia and Church & State first introduced the area to big flavors, raucous dinnertime crowds, and dining as a form of experiential art, and in the intervening years the area has become home to giant rooftop brunch jungles, underground cocktail dens, some of America’s best Israeli food, and modernist hideaways where the scene is as beautiful as the food. Next up is Yess, a charcoal-fueled corner destination from former London chef Junya Yamasaki that promises to take Los Angeles diners on a tour through California produce, Japanese flavors, and neo-urban design.

Fans will know Yess from its time as a bright orange sashimi food truck that had parked around the Arts District over the past couple of years. The big-thinking rig was run by Yamasaki, one of London’s most talented chefs, and turned out a surprising array of high-end seafood dishes like Hinoki-smoked black cod trays and line-caught sashimi plates. The truck focused primarily on local seafood married with Japanese techniques and served in a surprisingly mellow environment right on the sidewalk.

A gloved hand drops in wood to a stove at a restaurant.
Fueling the fire.

Yamasaki, along with Brit Giles Clark — who worked under Yamasaki in London and has spent time at Chez Panisse, Alinea and elsewhere — and Chicagoan Jacob Himmel (Momofuku), had always planned to eventually open a restaurant nearby. The trio, meanwhile, used the truck to stay busy during the slow days of the pandemic and to grow a vocal local fanbase. It seems to have worked on both counts.

Now Yess the restaurant is ready for its big reveal. Bathed in natural light that filters in from tall glass block windows, the cement and brick-lined corner location is intent on becoming a new hotspot for the always-busy Arts District. Yamasaki, who previously opened London’s lauded Koya noodle bar before moving back to Japan in 2015 (and then jumping to Los Angeles), will primarily focus on wood-fired and charcoal-fueled grill and stove cooking at the restaurant, crafting a progressive Japanese menu with plenty of smoky touches. There are charred vegetables and braised pork belly bites, lots of skewers and bites of miso-marinated tofu, and heartier options like a grilled beef tataki and a steamed rockfish with Manila clams. Clark is on as sous chef, with Himmel operating as a junior sous, though everyone will be hands-on with production from the open kitchen inside the 1920s-era building. Expect 70-plus seats in all, including a lounge area, tasting menu counter, and private dining room.

Together, Yamasaki, Clark, and Himmel plan to run the highly anticipated Yess while also expanding to other opportunities around Los Angeles, operating under the name Hi Hi Heel Productions. Next up is a Yess Cafe and then Good Brown, a multi-faceted space on Mateo Street, just beyond the 10 freeway, that will serve as a membership club, events space, bar, and restaurant. But first there is Yess the restaurant, which opens this Thursday, April 27 at 2001 E. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021. Expect hours from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with Sunday brunch service coming down the line.

Cement, glass block, exposed beams, at a new restaurant at daytime.
Glass block windows and a tall ceiling.
A light wood run of tables and bar inside a brick and glass block dining room at daytime.
Bar seats and round tabletops.
Metal skewers inside of a piece of meat as it sits over an open flame at a restaurant.
Fire-cooked meat.
A hand holds metal skewers that run through a piece of red meat over an open flame at a restaurant.
Jars holding fermenting items at a daytime restaurant, from the counter.
A wide look at a daytime restaurant dining room with blonde wood, brick, and an open steel kitchen.
The open kitchen.
A run of light blonde round tables at a daytime restaurant dining room with glass block windows and tall ceilings.
A low shot of light blonde wood curved tables and chairs inside of a restaurant dining room at daytime, with lots of brick.
A light pink raw fish with flowers and beans in a dark bowl at a daytime restaurant.
Vermillion rockfish sashimi with fava beans.
A large piece of grilled beef on a white plate surrounded by citrus and flowers.
Fire-seared Stemple Creek tataki.
Medium rare exposed slices of beef in a dark bowl.
Citrus and vegetables arranged inside a dark bowl at a daytime restaurant.
Monk’s chirashi.
Seared long beans on a slate plate against a wooden table.
Grilled fava beans and English peas.
Grilled onions on a skewer, cut in half and shown on a white plate.
Grilled onion.
A seared squared-off cut of fish on a skewer, fully cooked, shown on a white plate at a restaurant.
Tofu miso-dengaku with smoked walnuts.
Two skewers run through cooked pieces of fish with skin on at a new restaurant, at daytime.
Grilled Vermillion rockfish with shiso salsa verde.
A side angle of a thick slice of seared fish, on skewers, at a new restaurant at daytime.
Grilled saikyo miso-marinated black cod with rhubarb.
Morel mushrooms cut in half with wasabi and peas inside, on a slate plate at a restaurant.
Grilled morel mushrooms stuffed with mashed peas and confit garlic.
Brown-orange abalone, grilled and served in shell on a slate plate with greens on top.
Grilled abalone with liver sauce and sansho leaves.
A steamed pink fish with clams and noodles served on a white plate against a light wood background.
Steamed Vermillion rockfish with Manila clams.
A ball of white snow looking dessert in a bowl against a dark red glass on a wooden table, at a restaurant.
Red rice sake punch and dessert.
Dates and syrup pour down a white mound of ice cream in a bowl, with a holding glass beyond.
Dates and Irish coffee.
A long, wide look at a daytime restaurant with glass block windows, tall ceilings, and lots of light wood and cement and brick. Wonho Frank Lee

YESS Restaurant

2001 East 7th Street, , CA 90021 Visit Website
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