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Honda Ya Izakaya Review

Honda Ya just opened last week so I decided to give it a try. It’s located in the Little Tokyo Shopping Mall on the 3rd floor right next to Sushi Go 55. You probably wouldn’t find it by accident unless you were already in the mall but I love the multi-story parking structure.

The first picture is the interior looking towards the yakitori bar from the entrance.  Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version, then click “Back” in your browser to come back here.

The second picture is the tatami (sit on floor) area in the back.  This is the traditional way of sitting in Japan.

The 3rd picture is the combination plate ($11.95) I ordered with sashimi, hiyayako (tofu) and natto (fermented beans).  It comes with rice, miso and potato salad.  Yes, potato salad.  You can choose which combination you want.  I also tried the Ume-Ku (cucumber with plum, $3.95) and Zaru soba with Tororo (cold noodles with grind yam, $7.95, $6.50 without grind yam).

In the center of the sitting area is a party table with this pot in the middle.  I saw some money coming out of the pot which I would guess is some type of good-luck thingie.

The menu is full of cool stuff for drinkers, including ramen noodles, chazuke (rice with hot tea) and other Izakaya type goodies.  Unlike other wannabe Izakaya places, this place has the look and feel of one, including 2 pages of alcoholic beverages.  It’s also brand new, clean, and traditional.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is nothing I ate was good.  The tofu was too hard, the sashimi was small and only so-so, and even the potato salad was hard and almost uncooked.  The grind yam and natto was good, but you really can’t screw that up.  The zaru soba was over cooked and was not the type that I like.  But remember that I am a noodle nut so I didn’t expect the noodle to be good here.  The ume-ku had too much bonito and not enough plum.  Get the Ume-ku at Izayoi instead.  It’s good there.  The shocker was the rice was overly sticky.  I’ve never been to a Japanese restaurant where the rice wasn’t prepared to almost perfection.

On top of all this, the waitress was confused with the menu and I asked her to ask somebody else to make sure she was correct, and of course, she wasn’t.  I asked her if she spoke Japanese, since she didn’t seem to understand English, and she said a little.  Huh?

When Bushnell first opened Chucky Cheese, they had great games, a rat mascot, party atmosphere, and great service.  What they also had was horrible cardboard tasting pizza.  The lesson is not to forget your core business.  They quickly made adjustments to survive, but that is a lesson for any businessperson.  But I digress.

I’m going to give this place some benefit of the doubt because they just opened.  I can see the waitress being confused with the new menu.  Also I’ll excuse the so-so sashimi, Zaru soba and tofu.  Afterall, this a Izakaya, a drinking place.

What I don’t excuse is the hard potato, and rice.  Any caring competent owner should make damn sure that everything is up to par, at least for the first month.  If not, things can only go down hill from where you started.  There are other Honda Ya’s in Fountain Valley and Tustin, so obviously, they must know what they’re doing.  But what passes as okay in those places will not pass as okay here in Little Tokyo, where the customers are really Japanese.

After having said that, I’m sure that if you want to have a drink with your friends, who cares what the food tastes like, right?

Honda Ya
333 South Alameda #314, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 625-1184
Tuesday-Sunday: 5:30pm to 1am (last call about 12:30am)

Read my second review of Honda Ya.

Read my re-review of Honda Ya.