I know I’ve griped a lot about not having the luxury of finding good authentic little Japanese restaurants in Orange County, but truth be told, I keep forgetting about this hole-in-the-wall tucked away in a strip mall off the 5-freeway in Laguna Niguel.
It’s been about five years since I visited Kappo Hana and I remembered I enjoyed it very much, what I obviously failed to remember was its proximity from my home. For some reason, I thought it was a lot farther than it really was. In reality, it was only about four or five exits away and the most convenient part was its proximity to the freeway exit.
What stood out in my mind was this rice dish which, when explained to my friend, a native Japanese speaker, was quick to blurt out “kamameshi“, a dish traditionally cooked in an iron pot over an open fire with different types of meats and/or vegetables placed on top.
After a quick look at the menu, I couldn’t help but once again order the kamameshi, this time opting for the chicken and seafood (my first time was a clam kamameshi).
It takes about 20-30 minutes for the kamameshi to cook so if you’re in a lunch-time rush, don’t order it. I will always wait for good food so this is a must for me!
The kamameshi comes with a side of tempura and a bowl of miso soup. Quite frankly, this meal is very satisfying and will fill you up — I can only eat half of the kamameshi and have enough for later.
My friend’s saba teishoku (mackerel set lunch minus the agedashi tofu) was simple yet elaborate, an oxymoron if there ever was one.
The piece of mackerel is generous, perfectly prepared and served with fresh lemon and grated daikon on the side.
Side dishes are delicious as well. A simple simmered spinach with mushrooms is light and gives you something green.
Soy braised lotus root is my favorite. Flavorful sliced lotus root has a slight crunch and is completely infused with the flavors of soy and mirin.
We also ordered agedashi tofu which is done perfectly. The dashi is strong and the tofu is fried just right.
I love eating here, but I do suggest at least an hour for lunch. During dinner they can get very busy and often there is a wait for a table and service might be slow too because this IS a family run business with the husband and wife cooking in the kitchen.
25260 La Paz Road
Laguna Hills, CA 92653