Allison Day


Yesterday, November 15th, was my wonderful boyfriend Son’s 26th birthday. With school and everything, I didn’t have the gumption to cook for him this year, so of course I had to take him out. He chose this cute little Japanese restaurant in Tustin called Honda-Ya (556 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780 Phone: (714) 832-0081) that an old friend had recommended to him a while ago, but we hadn’t gone to yet.


We arrived around 7:45. There’s a little sign-in sheet on the outside, where you write your name, how many people there are, and if you would prefer to sit at a table, at the bar, or Japanese-style on the floor. We decided to sit a table since it was our first time there, and we weren’t sure how comfortable we would be sitting on the floor. We were seated within 20 minutes of signing in, which was pretty good for how busy it was there. We got this little table in the corner, which had a nice view of an itsy-bitsy garden outside. I liked it because I”m super shy, and where we were no one could really see us. 😀

Honda Ya

When you are seated, the waitress brings out these dishes of pickled cucumbers with red pepper flakes. They are more subtle than American pickles (which I”m not too fond of)… I thought these were really good.

Honda Ya

There are lots of small dishes that you can order, including sushi, sashimi, yakitori, etc. We ordered five different dishes: yellowtail roll, Super California roll, Takoyaki, Crab Shumai, and Cheese Age.

Honda Ya

The yellowtail roll was alright. I usually eat yellowtail as nigiri, so I think the nori took away from my enjoyment of it a bit. I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. The Super California roll was your typical California Roll, with a slice of teriyaki unagi on top. These were really good. I ended up eating most of these! 😀 We were also having some fun with wasabi with our sushi. As always, the maki came with a bit of horseradish “wasabi”. This time though, we had some real wasabi to compare it with (this was one of my birthday presents to Son 🙂 ). Son said he preferred to real wasabi to the fake stuff… although just as spicy, there wasn’t as much of a kick right when you put it in your mouth… instead it had a calmer taste.

Honda Ya

The Takoyaki are fried balls of octopus (I was going to say octopus balls, but then I realized how wrong that sounds) with a tonkatsu sauce (which tasted like BBQ sauce) drizzled on top and something flaky sprinkled on that… I’m thinking parmesan cheese, but I’m really not sure at all. Could have been fish flakes for all I know. These were served with mayo and red pickled ginger. I was kinda meh about them… they weren’t bad, but not something I would order again. Son didn’t really go for them much either… he says they were too salty (I was shocked when he said this… he loves salt on his foods!) I think the saltiness detracted from the overall flavor though, which is why they weren”t so great.

Honda Ya

Son absolutely loved the Crab Shumai. This is similar to something you might find at a dim sum place… nicely sized crab dumplings with shredded crab on the top. These came with a clump of yellowish stuff, that tasted like wasabi. I wasn’t too fond of these… Son said they tasted kind of like Durian (an Asian fruit) which I can”t stand the smell or taste of, which might explain why I didn’t like these.

Honda Ya

Our last dish was the Cheese Age. These consisted of nacho cheese and jalapeños inside a fried wonton skin, on top of a small salad. I loved these! Even though they really aren’t so Japanese, I thought they were really good. I may just try to replicate them at home, so there might be my version of a recipe posted eventually.

Honda Ya

Overall, we had a fantastic dinner. The entire bill, including tax, tip, and a Sprite, came out to less than $40. Plus, Honda-Ya is open until 1am, so it’s a great late-night place. Next time we go there, we would probably sit Japanese-style on the ground, to get the full experience. We would definitely order the Super California Roll, the Crab Shumai, and the Cheese Age again, and try a few other things to see what else is good there. If you are ever in old Tustin, I definitely recommend Honda-Ya!

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  1. Ralph Whitbeck says:

    Happy Birthday Son!

    hehe Octopus balls.

  2. iang says:

    takoyaki often (at least in the states) have dried bonito flakes served on top, with the traditional sauces being japanese mayo and a sauce somewhere around bbq like you said but with an extra veggie flavoring

  3. Donna says:

    Happy Birthday to Son.

    I have never commented before but I wanted to let you know that I have been a faithful follower since subscribing months and months ago. I love your blog! A southern belle from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I grew up with my sushi breaded and deep fried. LOL I discovered sushi about a year ago and now go to the sushi bar about once a week. I still prefer rolls with cooked fish, but I’ve tried the other. I haven’t tried any of the recipes here yet, although they look awesome. Someday soon… I promise!

    Have a great day,

  4. iang says:

    Happy Birthday Son!

    whoops, how rude of me

  5. Sophie says:

    I had Takoyaki at a Japanese restaurant in Auckland, and mine tasted fine but they were nothing special. I’ll definitely be trying your recipe for Cheese Age!

  6. Son says:

    Thanks everyone! I enjoyed the dinner at the restaurant very much. Thanks Allison for the birthday dinner! 🙂

  7. Yvo says:

    Happy Bday to Son 🙂
    Hehe I had to giggle reading about the parmesan… they look like bonito flakes to me. The freaky thing about bonito flakes is that usually when they’re served on something hot, if you just watch the plate, they wave about like they’re ALIVE!! my friends and I go to a izakaya/Japanese pub sometimes when we’re already drunk and watching it do that is just about the best thing ever while drunk ;p hahahahaha. (Similar to Honda-ya, there’s a sign in sheet outside)
    Oh and the yellow stuff with your dim-summy shumai looks like what I grew up calling “Chinese mustard”- cuz that’s what my parents called it. I never tasted it because supposedly it’s the hottest thing my mom had or has ever eaten, and she eats SPICY… and I did not. (Still working on that though.) Ah well! Glad you guys had such a good dinner 🙂

  8. Allison says:

    Ralph – 😛

    iang – Ahah! That’s what it was! I thought parmesan cheese would be an odd thing to have on them, but I could not for the life of me think of bonito flakes! Everything makes sense now.

    Donna – I’m so glad to hear that you are a fan of Sushi Day! I didn’t start eating raw fish until a couple of years ago (my mom is allergic so we never had it at home growing up), so I understand the aversion to raw fish! 🙂 Definitely let me know if you ever try making sushi… I would love to hear about it!

    Sophie – Yeah, ours weren’t too special either. I’ll have the cheese age recipe up here when I get around to making it!

    Son – Love you! 🙂

    Yvo – Hehe yeah, for some reason the possibility of bonito flakes never crossed my mind. 😛 Hehe I suppose our takoyaki wasn’t hot enough for that, because our bonito flakes weren’t moving… and I looked pretty closely because I was trying to figure out what the heck they were! I didn’t try any of the yellow stuff, so I’m relying on what Son thought it was… of course, he inhales wasabi so it may have been super spicy to normal people like us, but not so much to him! 😀

  9. Jessica says:

    Wow only around $40!? Over here in VA all that stuff would cost me and my boyfriend $60 plus tips!

  10. Allison says:

    Yep! It’s not often that we pay more than $40-$50 for a meal for the two of us. Of course, we tend to frequent lower-end restaurants, so if we were to go to a higher-end place it would be much more expensive!

  11. Darren says:

    Wow what a treat! Honda-yas is the best! You did a nice job shooting the sushi too. Did you bring the tripod with you? hehe 😛

  12. Allison says:

    Yep! No tripod… we actually didn’t even use the nice camera. Didn’t want to make a huge deal about it, so we used our small camera. The pictures wouldn’t have been so blurry if we had brought the tripod! 🙂

  13. Marina says:

    Lovely dinner !
    Octopus balls ! I thought and asked my husband if octopus really have balls :))
    sorry, I just found it serious first and then we started laughing.
    This is not to offend the blog owner.

  14. Custom Dog Tags says:

    I am so hungry now! That looks amazing!

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