Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Taste test: Honda-ya

testicles of giant octopi? No, they're takoyaki!

I'm so glad to see the Little Tokyo Shopping Mall getting more popular restaurants -- it was so sad when nearly everything was closed up. Luckily Honda-ya is open even on Sunday nights, even during the Superbowl. Yes, some of you watch football, some of us eat octopus balls.
We brought the meat-eating teen along to help sample some dishes. He blithely ordered a $12 Super California Roll with eel which I belatedly realized was twice as much as a normal California roll, but no matter. We also tried the garlicky spinach; skewers of beef, bacon-wrapped sausage and smoky pork belly; kalbi (Korean short ribs), the aforementioned octopus balls or takoyaki, black cod and grilled eggplant.
Honda-ya has a fun quasi-traditional decor -- you can sit at low tables in the tatami room, or watch the chefs around a large counter. The draft beer seems kind of flat, but I think that means you can drink a lot of it. Some dishes were more successful than others -- the takoyaki were very rich but tasty, the cod was perfectly done -- but others suffered in the execution. But with plenty of sakes to choose from, reasonably priced draft beers and a vast menu, it doesn't really matter. Honda-ya is for drinking and nibbling, not for scrutinizing the quality of the food too carefully. If you want better izakaya , go to Iyazoi. If you want to hang out, drink beer and munch on skewers, go to Honda-ya. Plus, free parking in the mall's garage!
333 S. Alameda #314
(213) 625-1184


Anonymous said...

I agree, that little center was looking pretty sad. Good to hear that it is being repopulated.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Honda-ay will be the spark to revive this shopping mall. We've been fans of Honda-ya in Tustin since '98 and with their new locale in LA is just as fun. The nice thing about Honda-ya is that for the less successful dishes, there's plenty more tasty nibblers to choose from to make up for it.
You're right, "it's not for scrutinizing the quality of the food to carefully", but it is a good place to go for a good,fun and casual time with friends.