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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

LA!! Honda-Ya Izakaya

For our last dinner in LA, I chose this Japanese Yakitori place (grilled skewers and such). It had really good reviews online and the menu was pretty extensive. I found out later that my bf had actually been there before during one of his business trips. He said it was fantastic. Yay! :)

Honda-Ya Izakaya
333 South Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 625-1184
Price: $-$$

This place is located in a shopping mall. Unfortunately I never found out what the mall was called. But it's on the 2nd floor.

They take reservations, thank goodness, because there were people on a wait list when we got there. And when we left, the line of people got longer! On weekends they also have a 2 hour max for dining since they are so busy... Walking in, the decor was very Japanese. It was pretty cool! But no one greeted us at all. A bunch of waiters and waitresses walked by us but none stopped to greet us or even acknowledge us.. :( Uh oh, not a good sign!

Finally the hostess showed up and took us to our table. Our waiter came to greet us and take our drink orders. Luckily he was really cool and even joked around with us. We were given some Japanese Cucumbers as a complimentary starter. It was really good!!

The menu was so extensive it was really hard to figure out what to order! Everything sounded so good!!

In no particular order we ordered the following... Everyone got to try a little bit of everything. :)

Kobe Beef Tataki (seared Kobe beef) $9.50~
Amazing! This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The beef quality was superb. The meat was just lightly seared on the outside. It was super tender and full of flavor. YUM!!

Salmon Collar $7.95~
This was my other favorite of the night. The salmon was cooked perfectly. And the cheek meat of the fish is always the most tender. Delicious!

Yakitori (price per skewer):
- Special Chicken Heart $2.50~
The waiter explained the difference between regular chicken heart vs the special heart. They cut the heart in half. The bottom is the regular heart and is more lean but looks "nicer". The special heart is the upper part which has the arteries and such which might not look as appealing to some people, but is more fatty and tender than the regular heart. I'm glad we opted for the fattier part. It was pretty tasty. Cooked really well...if overcooked it gets a bit chewy. Out of all the skewers, this was one of my favorites.

- Scallop $3.95~ Quite tender and had good flavor. I like it!
- Squid Legs $2.50~ Cooked well, not extra chewy. Tasty!
- Zucchini with Bacon $2~ I didn't get to try this since we only got 1 skewer. But refer to the previous item's comment and I'm sure this was delicious as well.

- Asparagus with Bacon $2.25~ Anything wrapped in bacon is awesome. Nuff said.

- Beef Tongue $2.25~ I love beef tongue and was looking forward to this the most. But it was a bit chewy and not the best I've had. :(
- Pork Belly $2~ Can't go wrong with pork belly. It was like thick cut bacon. Drool!!

- Duck $3.50~ A little expensive for the amount of meat we got. But the duck flavor was very prominent which I liked and very tender.

Takoyaki (octopus pancake ball) $4.50~
One of my friends ordered this. I'm not a fan of takoyaki. It's usually too heavy and never has enough octopus inside. This was no different. Also the sauce on top was pretty sweet. Eh...

Chijimi (Korean style pancake) $4.50~
One girl ordered this thinking it would be like pajeon (normal Korean pancake) but it was definitely not! haha. It was pretty interesting though. Flavors were good. I liked the fish flakes on top. And it's cool because they move on top because of the heat. It's like the food is still alive! :)

Spicy Tuna Crispy (spicy tuna on top of crispy rice) $6~
One friend ordered this but it was also different than expected. We all thought it would be like spicy tuna roll thats fried or something... But it's actual Asian crispy rice with spicy tuna on top. Interesting and very good! Each order only comes with 2 pieces though. A little pricey!

Men-Mochi (spicy cod roe and cheese baked on mochi/rice cake) $6~
I've never had anything like this before. The combination of mochi baked with cheese is definitely new to me. It was a bit too salty...too much cheese I think. It also needed more of the roe. The mochi was very tough to cut through. It was interesting... but I probably won't recommend it.

Potato Cheese Gratin (baked creamy mashed potato with cheese) $7.50~
I had hoped this would be like a sweet potato cheese gratin I had in Korea (which was awesomely fantastic) but it wasn't really. It was still good but I think also too much cheese in ratio to the potato.

Salmon Chazuke (rice soup with grilled salmon flake) $4.95~
My friend said this is a good hangover dish. It's very light yet comforting. I can see that it would make a hangover feel better. haha.

Dang... sooo much food! Most of the dishes were really good but I was definitely craving something fresh afterwords. A lot of meats and cheese and heaviness. I don't think I can eat like this all the time.

I was full but then I found out they had Black Sesame Ice Cream $1.95~
OMG! I must have!! I LOVE black sesame. It was really yummy!!! :)

Strawberry Mochi Ice Cream $3~
Mochi ice creams are always tasty. It's basically the ones you can buy at the Asian supermarket. hehe.

It was a fun and interesting meal. It's a cool place to go with a big group of people since you want to share and sample everything. We don't have anything like this in Dallas... We definitely need some Izakayas in Dallas. I think it would do really well! I would recommend making a reservation if you decided to go so you don't have to wait in line!

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