Saturday, March 29, 2008

Honda Ya

Apparently Honda Ya has been much blogged about by the Orange County food blogging community and has received some raving reviews. After dropping by on a Saturday night, I can totally see why.

I went with some pals at 9:30pm to find eight parties ahead of us waiting for a table. "Shit. Sorry guys," I said. Well, the wait was actually not all that bad and we were promptly seated (on a tatami!) after about 40 minutes. Normally I would have been in a foul mood after waiting for so long, but time really flies when you're with good company. Eating and hanging out with friends is such a great pleasure in life.

Honda Ya has quite an extensive list of items to order from and I was completely overwhelmed. Hell, if I could, I'd order every damn item on the menu. While my buddies and I were still deciding what to order, we had a pitcher of Sapporo brought over to help us think. I settled with Fried Oysters, Crab & Cheese Croquettes, Takoyaki, and some items from their yakitori menu (not pictured). These items ranged from $4-6. Keegan "The Generous" bought our party two premium bottles of sake. Thanks a lot bud!

Sorry for the crappy pictures. My excuses?
1) I was getting pretty fkin' hungry. I have little patience when I'm hungry.
2) Dim lighting and no room to use a (mini)tripod.
3) Well...I was kinda buzzed. So buzzed that I forgot to get photos of the yakitori items.

Fried Oysters:
Came with tartar sauce and what tasted like tonkatsu sauce. I enjoyed them a whole lot more with the tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice. I'm not a fan of oysters because of what I describe as the "rotten+sea taste," but these oysters had no trace of that. The batter was light and fried to a gorgeous golden brown. Delicious! I'd definitely order them again.

Crab & Cheese Croquette:
I love how flash photography makes the oil in fried foods glisten as it does here. The croquettes didn't feel very oily, though. I ordered these to compare them with Cafe Hiro's croquettes (which they call crab cakes). This was the downer of the evening. The croquettes were unremarkable in flavor. Plain. Uneventful. Very boring. Cafe Hiro makes better ones, but at more than double the price.

Hot damn this plate was a real winner. I've only had takoyaki here California so my exposure is quite limited, but I gotta say...these are terrific! Honda Ya's takoyaki is a tad larger than what I'm used to, but that's because a generous hunk of squid is wrapped up inside. Other than the sauce you see drizzled on top, there is also a dab of mayo on the right side. ....tasted so fkin' good with the mayo... Takoyaki here is better than at Genki Living. I'm ordering two sets of these next time.

Sake, courtesy of Keegan:
The bottles (300mL each, enough for 1.33 drinks for 4 people) were served cold. Apparently, you only serve lower quality sake warm as to mask undesirable traits. I was too buzzed to remember the names, but I do remember how each tasted. The one on the left was fruity and slightly sweet. I really really really hate sweet alcohol. The one on the right was dry, aromatic, and very smooth. I'm a sake newbie, so I really can't say much more, but I like the bottle on the right a whole lot better then the left one. Thanks again, Keegan!

Yakitori items:
We ordered from the Yakitori menu pretty late into our visit, so needless to say we had a nice buzz going by now. Well...I had a good buzz going cuz I'm a lightweight, I'm not sure about the other guys. I tried a "Specialty" item (steak + mushrooms) and a skewer of pork belly. As good as the skewers of meat were, I can't justify paying $3-4 for 2.5 bites per skewer. I just can't. In any case, the steak was some fine quality beef. Salt was all the seasoning it needed. But $4 for it? I don't know...
Keegan and James ordered some Eel, which looked really good. Honda Ya was very generous with the Eel. I think each order required four skewers to hold it together?

What a great night. Honda Ya is without a doubt worthy of many revisits. There are still so many items I want to try. Of course, having a DD is essential! Thank you Kyle for the ride...sorry we kept you up so late.