I’m no yakisoba expert, unless by an expert you mean somebody who has eaten a metric ton of yakisoba in the past decade or so. From what I gather, yakisoba is one of those cultural hodgepodge dishes, equal parts Japanese, Chinese, and kitchen sink. The basic formula is ramen noodles fried in a Worcestershire-heavy sauce along with carrots, cabbage, onions, and some form of pork. Toppings vary, but usually include shredded ginger, powdered seaweed, and undulating katsuobushi. A healthy squirt of Kewpie, a Japanese brand of MSG-laced mayonnaise, never hurt anyone. When it all comes together right, yakisoba is savory alchemy. I can’t go for more than a month without seriously jonesing for a hit.
Longtime readers know of my devotion to Honda Ya, a Tustin izakaya that has housed many great boozy evenings in my life, including the one after my wedding. It’s a bit of a schlep to Tustin from Corona del Mar, however, and the original restaurant is one of those places that demands a big raucous group of friends to share it with. B and I were thus happy to discover the newest addition to the family of restaurants, Honda Ya Box in Costa Mesa. Geared more towards a lunch crowd, this streamlined little brother has a pared-down menu of classics. It’s virtually empty on weekday evenings when we usually go, though the service and food are unflaggingly great no matter what time we come in. Perhaps the best part is the price – the heap of bacon-studded yakisoba happiness pictured above is only six bucks, with draft beer and sake coming in at a couple more. We’re talking dinner for two, with booze, in Orange County, for under twenty bucks. I’m sure it will be as busy as the original in no time, so get in while the getting is good.
PS. DK’s Doughnuts next door does a killer old-fashioned, if you are in for the bonus round.