When I think of Honda-Ya, I think of Yakitori. When I think of Yakitori, I think of snacks. No meal was eaten on a stick. Never! That is unless you get a lot of grilled meats on a stick, and maybe some rice, and other small items. Yeah, then that can be a meal. Honda-Ya in Fullerton opened some time last year. From the looks of the remodeled building, it used to be a Sizzler. That is some upgrade and change if you ask me. Handa-Ya is always fun because the decor inside is so very Japanese and the food is decent. The Yakitori is always on point and the price is just right. I felt a Handa-Ya in this neighborhood seemed kind of off, but I guess the customers like it.
Always, I start off with the Yakitori. I always get the pork belly. The nice charcoal flavor counter balances with the fatty pork belly, making a nice mix of fat and flavor. I tried the wasabi chicken which was alright. The chicken was tender and not dry. My least favorite was the beef. It had a nice teriyaki flavor, but nothing about it was special. Some of my other favorites is the beef tongue and the chicken skins, but you can’t go wrong with the pork belly.
Another dish that disappointed me was the fried baby octopus. The flavor of the octopus was actually nice. The heads popped with great flavor and the meat wasn’t chewy at all. The problem with this was the way they fried it. It wasn’t crispy nor salted. It was just a very greasy batter with no flavor. Each bite squeezed out all of the oil and didn’t leave a very pleasant taste in my mouth. A lighter crispy batter would have suited this much nicer. It was till good dipped in the wasabi soy sauce mixture I made.
The pork with kimchi was probably my favorite. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the kimchi was better than the pork. The pork wasn’t special, and it was kind of dry. The kimchi is where all of the flavor was and kept everything moist. This was perfect with a nice hot bowl of white rice.
Honda-Ya is slowing growing and expanding. I remember when the only one I knew of was in Little Tokyo. That is of course when I didn’t know what Orange County was at the time. The Honda-Ya in Tustin is where everyone goes, so its cool to have this in somewhat closer, Fullerton. Honda-Ya is all about simplicity. The dishes aren’t complex or anything. The ingredients are just basic as can get, but the quality is there. The technique in making and grilling the Yakitori has a method. Though their menu is a bit cluttered and ranges from raw uni to udon noodle soup, the food is unique. Somewhat of a glorified Japanese cafe that serves alcohol, this is indeed an Izakaya, somewhere to eat, drink, and relax. That sounds really good right about now.