This year, the federal and state governments rewarded me for being a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen with a whopping 50 (yes, f-i-f-t-y!) dollars. What to do with such a disgusting surfeit of money?, I pondered. I considered booking a hotel room and tossing bills in the air while falling backwards onto a plush mattress. Maybe I’d hire someone to drive me around the city while I threw wads of cash out the car window. Instead, I took my primo American buck-a-roos and treated my mom and grandma to a nice meal.
Dining out is easier said than done, however, when the guests are very particular family matriarchs (HBICs). Fortunately, we found a more-than-suitable option in Kappo Honda, a Japanese restaurant tucked in an Orange County strip mall. Part of the immensely popular Izakaya Honda-Ya family of restaurants, Kappo Honda serves up fantastic skewers, sushi, seafood and sake in a cozy-casual environment. My only regret is that I didn’t discover this gem when I lived only a few miles away!
While my dear mom exercises saint-like patience most of the time, she transforms into a complete diva/taskmaster when dining out. Fortunately, Kappo Honda takes reservations (an absolute must, considering its popularity) and has reasonably prompt service (considering it’s mainly a drinking hall). We began our meal with an order of pickled tsukemono bar snacks — fun, tart bites, but nothing to write home about. Infinitely more complex and impressive were the daily specials. The pan-fried asparagus and sweet shrimp was exceptionally tender and bright, while the sauteed squid with soy and shishito peppers were off the charts with umami. Absolutely fantastic.
My grandma, whose stomach is a bit sensitive, stuck to her dinner plate of wagyu beef teriyaki, served with sides of rice, potato salad, and ponzu sauce. The entree also came with miso soup and a small green salad. Shared among our small party, the combination made up most of the volume of our meal, otherwise populated by small plates. We indulged in a large order of ultra-fresh sashimi (the second lead photo) and several grilled skewers. From left to right in the photo below, we had: chicken and shiitake mushroom (my favorite); pork belly and asparagus; and pork and okra. For our final savory course, we each had a pair of unbelievably plump, slightly smoky scallops.
Now, I don’t want this post’s hook to be misleading. My tax credit wouldn’t be enough to buy a 5-minute joy ride, let alone the cost of this exceptionally nice meal out. Your money’s mileage will vary, depending on the type of plates you order; bulk up your meal with heavier plates and you’ll obviously save cents. As we dug into our dessert — a perfect scoop of black sesame ice cream — it was clear that Kappo Honda had been worth every shiny, US-minted penny.
8450 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708