honda ya ramen

Years of disappointing experiences have taught me that I shouldn’t order ramen from restaurants that aren’t ramenyas. Too many places have ramen on their menu only as an afterthought, and ramen aficionados like me end up being bitterly disappointed by the ramen I ordered and my eating companions point and laugh at me and make me the butt of their jokes for the rest of the evening and refuse to share their food and–ahem…sorry…got a bit carried away there. Where was I? Oh yes…you would think I would’ve learned better. But thanks to some friendly recommendations, not only did I order ramen from a restaurant that specialized in other foods, I decided to go to Honda Ya for the sole purpose of trying their ramen.

Even though Honda Ya has a beguiling “Honda Ramen” sign outside (in Japanese), it’s actually an izakaya, a casual Japanese restaurant meant for drinking, socializing, and snacking. Izakayas are similar to Spanish tapas bars, where food is served in smaller snack-sized portions and meant to be shared with everyone at your table.

Honda Ya offers not one, but 6 different types of ramen! (Well, really 5. I’ve always just lumped shoyu ramen together with chashu ramen. After all, chashu ramen is usually just shoyu ramen with a few extra slices of pork.) There’s a choice of shoyu, miso, shio, (chashu), nanban, and kyushu ramen. I ordered the shoyu ramen, along with some of the izakaya dishes for the wife and I, and waited in anticipation. After the friendly waitress delivered my bowl, I heard the couple next to us exclaim “they serve ramen?!” and excitedly looked through the menu to investigate the ramen offerings.

honda ya ramen

The ramen came with basic toppings: a piece of seaweed, a sprinkling of green onions, bean sprouts, and a few pieces of shinachiku. The first sip of soup revealed a light assari flavor. The soup was light on pork and shoyu flavors, heavy on vegetable ingredients, and with a slight emphasis on fish. The fishiness of the soup reminded me of Maruyu’s fishy shoyu, which I recently enjoyed. The clear and light flavor made it an agreeable choice for summertime ramen slurping.

Soup aside, however, the ramen noodles and pork were its downfall. The noodles were very average, probably mass-produced, and had the added bonus of being a bit overcooked. They weren’t cooked to the point of mushiness, but they were far from al dente. The pork instantly reminded me of Ebisu’s chashu: tough and dry. (I haven’t had good chashu from Ebisu since I wrote that review…but I digress.) No, it’s not quite in pork jerky territory, but with more and more ramenyas in the O.C. producing decent to great chashu, Honda Ya’s chashu just can’t compete.

hondaya ramenhondaya ramenhondaya ramenhondaya ramenhondaya ramen

With just a bit of effort, Honda Ya could make a decent bowl of ramen to complement their other fine foods (I highly recommend the excellent grilled fish collar). I would still come back to try their other ramen with the hopes of better cooked noodles. As it stands, their shoyu ramen gets a decent 6 out of 10.

Honda Ya Japanese Restaurant ???
556 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 832-0081
Daily 5:30 p.m.-1:00 a.m.

3 thoughts on “ramen rating: honda ya – tustin, ca”

  1. The regular izakaya food is actually really authentic. Definitely not a good idea to eat soba, udon or ramen at places that don’t specialize in them.

  2. @Dave: yeah, i know better than to eat ramen at places like this…but then again, i don’t really know better. hahaha. but i agree, hondaya is a pretty good izakaya.

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