Izakaya menus usually have a lot of small plates, encouraging you to order a string of different nibbles to share while downing a pint. Grilling skewers of meat (yakitori), fried chicken, croquettes (korroke), and rice balls (musubi) are typical fare. Nasu dengaku, a plate I've already touched on, is a common dish found in izakayas.
Unfortunately, here in America it is much more likely to find a sushi bar than an izakaya, or perhaps a teppanyaki place where the food is secondary to the chef's antics. Changing the Japanese American dining scene is places like Honda-ya, a yakitori izakaya that is introducing the United States to the wonders of Japanese pub food.
Honda-ya has several restaurants all in Southern California: Tustin, Little Tokyo in Downtown L.A., City of Industry, and Fountain Valley. Their newest outpost is in Fullerton, just a couple blocks away from the Mochi's apartment. With Mr. Mochi, my brother and their friends in tow, I went to check out the new Honda-ya. This isn't really a review for review's sake, but trying to highlight a different type of Japanese American restaurant.
Mr. Mochi, as I knew he would, spied the festival food takoyaki ($4.50) and hastened to order his favorite. Second only to katsu-kare, he loves the molten hot pancake balls filled with bits of tempura and octopus and covered in tangy Japanese tonkatsu sauce. Mr. Mochi appreciated the Japanese mayo served here, which is much tangier and richer than the usual American mayo served with some takoyaki, as well as the proper crisp exterior and just cooked interior. These certainly did not disappoint, and the other boys liked them so much they got a second order. I am pretty sure Mr. Mochi will be getting me a takoyaki pan for my birthday so I can make them at home, that's how much he enjoys this dish.
|Tsukune, Leg meat, pork belly|
|the excellent yaki onigiri|
If you notice, none of us had sushi or sashimi. Honda-ya does have a sashimi and sushi portion of the menu, but that is not what we wanted to try. After all, honda-ya is an izakaya, not a sushi bar. I am sure that the sushi and sashimi are good, but to me that is like going to a steakhouse and ordering a burger; it may be serviceable enough to put on the menu, but it is not what they focus on. After all, Americans still associate Japanese cooking with raw fish, and I am sure if they did not have it on the menu, some would be confused.
Izakaya Honda-ya, Fullerton
2980 Yorba Linda Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92831