Tasting the Tradition at HONDA-YA
By: Natalie Venegas
Japanese food is not usually my first choice when it comes to restaurants, but let me tell you what I discovered. Over the weekend, I was introduced to IZAKAYA HONDA-YA. This restaurant is located in Tustin, CA. My cousin had been there recently, and she heard nothing but great things about it. So, I finally went. It was a rainy Friday night, and there were people waiting outside, so clearly I thought this place might be good. This restaurant is no typical restaurant. When we signed up to be on the waiting list, it was not the regular "you tell the hostess your name and how many." Instead, there was a clipboard hanging out by the door where you write your name and the number of people in your party.
As waited in the rain, I noticed these Japanese pictures on the wall, and this made the place seem very authentic and appealing. As we waited, more and more people were arriving. Finally, we were called, and the hostess asked if we wanted to sit at a regular table or on the floor. We chose the floor, and it was quite an experience. Before entering the lounge-like room, we had to remove our shoes and umbrellas to enter. When we sat on the ground, it was different, but it was a great experience because people in Japan normally sit on the floor for their meals. It was interesting that we got to do the same.
While sipping our hot Jasmine tea, we looked at the menu. As we glanced through the menu, I knew I wanted sushi. My cousin ordered the Dan-Dan Ramen which had a spice soy sauce flavor, with ground chicken and bok choy. My mom ordered the "stink roll" that was made up of a spicy tuna and seared albacore with garlic butter sauce on top. I decided to order the "sexy roll", this was a shrimp tempura roll with spice tuna and spice mayo on top. When the food arrived, everything looked and smelled so good that we decided to share our food with one another.
As we enjoyed the rolls, they were really good, but the ramen! It gave me this AHA moment because the flavors were so good. It had this spice and tanginess to it that I couldn't describe. It was all so tasty and comforting. Felt that my taste buds got to experience a whole new range of flavors. I highly recommend this place for someone who is not a Japanese food connoisseur because it will open your world as it lightly introduces you into the Japanese culture. I will gladly go to this restaurant again and bring more people with me so they can enjoy the experience like I did.