Sunday, December 17, 2017

Celebrating 25 Years of Honda-Ya in Tustin

Last year, when I wrote about a long overdue revisit to Honda-Ya, it was to praise its longevity.

Next year, Honda Ya will commemorate its 25th anniversary. In a business where most new restaurants are lucky if they survive a year, a quarter century is a significant milestone. But for Honda-Ya, it almost seems inevitable.

As I wrote before, it is a testament to its rock-solid stature as OC's preeminent izakaya that Honda-Ya is still unchanged yet still popular after all these years--like a stone monument in the middle of a city on fast-forward. Every time I step in there, it feels like a victory--not because I've usually just endured upwards to an hour's wait, but because coming into that room feels like I'm being welcomed back into the warm embrace of a loved one. Honda-Ya, more than anything, has one of the coziest and most welcoming restaurant spaces in all of Orange County.

If you sit next to a window, you don't look out to a parking lot; rather, you're lulled by a brightly lit Zen garden, even if it's late at night. And if you sit in the robota bar, you are mesmerized by the curls of smoke that enshrouds the grill master as he squints and flips dozens of sticks of yakitori over coals.

On a recent visit, we ate our usual assortment of Honda-ya favorites, balancing the grilled with the fried, the fried with the steamed, and our small appetites with the enormous feast we ordered. And as we took stock in how long we've been enjoying this food (since 2003), we can't help but wonder where we'll be in the next 25 years. The only thing that's certain is that we know where Honda-Ya will be: right here, in Tustin.

Honda Ya Japanese Restaurant
(714) 832-0081
556 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780

Yamame - Rancho Santa Margarita


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