Hayward Japan Grill is located at 920 C Street between Mission and Main in Hayward. It seems to have been here for ten years or so (judging from Yelp reviews), though I’ll admit that I’ve never noticed it. We tried this place for the first time last week and I was not particularly excited about what we found.
The atmosphere isn’t fabulous by any means, but they’ve made a bit of effort with some hanging plants and traditional Japanese decorations. The dining room itself is actually quite large and could hold quite a few patrons if need be. I am curious if the “need” ever “be” though; the place was dead (though it was a Wednesday).
First impression was in my nose; the place stank. Sorry, but it did. I’ve only been here once so I’m not sure if it was a one time thing or if this is just the smell that exists, but it smelled like the sea (and not in a good way) and I wasn’t digging it. The strange pop music in the background also wasn’t really getting me into my Japanese food groove. Additionally, there was a man in the back hammering something. What needs hammering in a restaurant? Especially for like 20 minutes continuously? I have no idea but if the FBI is around there later, we’ll all know why.
Alas, we took a look at the menu.
Which is hilarious. There are two menus actually, one with the regular Japanese items (udon, donburi, tempura, etc.) and the other with only sushi rolls. The sushi menu is just a standard bi-folding booklet with descriptions of their sushi, but each description is pointedly hilarious. It was so unexpected, I laughed out loud at a few. Here are a few favorites:
“Pancho Villa Roll: This roll is the commander of the Sushi Division del Norte, with strict orders to defeat your hunger in the for la dia del revolution [typo in tact]! Spicy tuna, avocado, and green onion in a Maki roll topped with tuna and fish eggs. And The Revolucion!”
“Godzilla Roll: Shrimp tempura and avocado in a Maki roll topped with barbecued eel and avocado. Order this roll or Gojira, King of all Monsters, will stomp so hard you’ll be saying “Oh, I guess I should have ordered the roll named after you, my lord King of all Monsters, but now I can’t do that because I’m like a pancake under your foot or something now. I guess I won’t be needing that haircut anymore. Probably.”"
And my personal favorite:
“Triforce Roll: Tuna with spicy sauce, Tempura shrimp, and avocado in a Maki roll topped with thinly sliced avocado. Now you too can wield the power of of the Golden Goddesses of Hyrule!”
That was pretty much the best part of the restaurant. But I have to say that I rarely do laugh out loud at sushi restaurants, so that’s a tribute to their cleverness to be sure. We ordered three rolls to split: the Nacho Special Roll (a blend of steamed shrimp, spicy tuna, real crab, and scallops), Spicy Sake Roll (salmon with spicy sauce in a Maki roll) and Spicy Tuna Hayward Roll (tuna with spicy sauce, Tempura shrimp, and avocado in a Maki roll).
The sushi was ok, nothing really special. The miso soup was good though and the food wasn’t terribly expensive. The chop sticks were the terrible kind (we’re super sensitive about chop sticks) and the actual plates on which the food was served were beat up and chipped. The service was also pretty terrible, the waitress lady (who may also be the owner?) didn’t come back once after giving us our food. No water refills, nothing. She didn’t even bring us our bill, we had to go up to the counter to pay.
Basically, I probably won’t be returning as Wakamatsu is literally two blocks away and I had a far better experience there. There’s just too much sushi around to waste time in a sub-par place.