Bryson Iwasaki prepares take-out orders at Azay on Sunday. (Photos by Phiip Hirose)

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

An Easter feast was on the menu at Azay in Little Tokyo on Sunday: roast leg of lamb or prime rib with sides of gratin potato, braised fennel and truffle mac and cheese. For dessert, it was carrot cake and an ”Easter surprise,” courtesy of Chef Akira Hirose.

Diners had a choice of leg of lamb or prime rib (pictured).

The menu is warmly familiar to regulars at Hirose’s former Maison Akira in Pasadena, but this was no ordinary Easter brunch. Because of COVID-19, orders were only accepted for take-out.

The global pandemic has changed much of what is normal for the time being. At Azay, it was important to keep with Easter traditions, even as families are sheltering in place.

“It’s such a sad time for everybody. We always had an Easter buffet brunch for 20 years. A lot of people who used to come missed it, so we did our prime rib and lamb as we always did out there,” Jo Ann Hirose explained.

Azay accepted orders until last Thursday and prepared 325 Easter meals. Many patrons ordered on Instagram and friends called and emailed their orders to prepare for virtual Easter celebrations.

Akira Hirose’s special take-out menu for the day.

Little Tokyo organizations have been helping local restaurants get their menus online to survive the current shutdown. Son Philip Hirose has been volunteering with the efforts and shared the Azay feast on Instagram and Facebook.

The chef wears a mask and gloves to prepare the meal.

“We had people from Orange County, my niece did a PV [Palo Verdes] delivery, we had some people come from the Westside,” Hirose said.

“People were during virtual Easter celebrations with their families. It was so cute, they would say, We gotta time it for our celebration.’”

Azay opened on First Street last year with a mix of classic French and Japanese dishes. Even though the restaurant is new, the family have been long-time fixtures in J-Town.

“Although we’re a legacy business, we’re still a start-up and need as much support as we can,” Hirose said.


226 E. First St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 628-3431

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