We finally made it to Honda Ya last night, which we have been looking forward to try. To start at the end, most of us were rather disappointed with the food and didn't feel that it was anything special, especially considering the price tag for the relatively small portions....
Maybe we went to Honda Ya with expectations that were simply too high after reading all the other mouthwatering reviews of fellow Chowhounders. Upon our arrival we had to wait more than 1 hour to be seated, which is no big deal considering the place is fairly new and hot. The staff was very friendly and the place itself has a rather nice ambiance. We went there with 5 people and must have eaten for 10... even the staff was laughing when we kept reordering time after time, which we felt was crucial in order to get a good idea of the food.
They start you out with pickled cucumbers which are terrific. Asparagus Maki (Yakitori) was good, spinach w/pork as well as the crab shumai were great. We found both of their eggplant dishes (one w/daikon radish and the other one grilled (supposedly) w/benito flakes) rather bland and nothing special at all. The pork belly Yakitori was terrific and very tasty. A must try in my opinion was the wasabi octopus... what a nice combination of flavors and texture. The pork with potato and other vegetables was joke... we are taking about a 1" x .5" pork strip. Chicken meatballs were average compared to other Yakitory places. We also got the ginger pork and another pork dish with pickled mushrooms/cabbage (sorry, can't remember exactly) which were good but far too greasy (and we don't usually mind greasy)... any of the deep fried stuff (oysters, jalapeños, cheddar cheese) was nothing special as well... just your average deep fried Japanese equivalent of American Sports bar food. The scallion pancake was definitely not the best we have ever had. The grilled garlic was nice, but nothing you couldn't do at home to be honest. A few of the dishes I inquired about, the waitress told me to stay away from because she didn't think that it was very good. I very much appreciate that kind of honesty but it made me wonder even more about Honda Ya.
We had several more dishes that I cannot remember at the moment, but none of us was especially impressed by what Honda Ya had to offer. We all agreed that Musha (especially the one in Torrance) blows Honda Ya away any given day, and even Westside Yakitori places, such as Sakkura House offer much better Yakitori than Honda Ya.
All in all I think that our expectations might just have been to high. If you have never experienced that kind of Japanese food you will probably be satisfied with the place, but if you have had the privilege of tasting similar food before, then I just don't think that this is the best place to go to.....
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