I can’t take credit for finding this place. A friend and I are out late one evening visiting Afters Ice Cream and the sweet taste in my mouth needed salvaging. He suggests Honda-Ya and I oblige. We drive over and see the crowd waiting and immediately decide against it. Lucky for us we find ourselves at Kaminariya Yakitori Dining just around the corner. Since that fateful evening, I have returned again and I must admit, even though the atmosphere is better at Honda-Ya, I like the food so much better at Kaminariya.
Although it is predominantly an izakaya (Japanese drinking establishment serving food) with tasty yakitori (grilled skewers), I find myself gravitating towards the homier items as well. One of my favorites is the ochazuke — there are three on the menu. Traditionally, it is rice soaked in hot tea with various toppings, however, if tea is used here, it is very weak, leaning more towards water than tea. After several visits, I have tried all three, my favorite being the Spicy Cod Roe Ochazuke ($5) — there is also Salmon ($5) and Pickled Plum or ume ($5).
Another must-order is the Homemade Sesame Tofu ($3.80). My friend does not care for the texture, reminiscent of cheesecake, he says. However, on subsequent visits, my son and others have loved this, often, we end up ordering a second portion because one is just not enough.
Of course, we can’t leave without eating some yakitori. I have tried many including Meat Ball ($2.30) which isn’t my favorite, but decent. It is tender but I would like a little more flavor IN the meat rather than just coating it.
If you’re adventurous, the Gizzard ($2.30) is fantastic. I love its crunchy texture and smoky taste.
Another item we love is Cartilage ($2.30). You might grimace upon hearing that, but it is absolutely delicious and possesses the perfect snap in my mouth.
One of our favorites is Chicken Skin ($2.30). The fat is rendered, but not to the point where it is just a crisp, but enough so that it is not rubbery.
When it comes time to order others, bacon always wins hands down. There is a small section dedicated to bacon-wrapped items including Enoki ($2.50). These thin mushroom stems soak up all the smokiness and saltiness from the bacon, creating one of the most savory morsels of the meal.
Asparagus ($) lovers may opt for bacon wrapped around stalks of this highly nutritious vegetable.
If you’re a Chicken Wing ($2.30) lover like I am, you’d better order two of these, I can never get enough.
From the specials menu, we select Scallop Wrapped Bacon ($4.50). It is delicious.
On one occasion, my son requests Seared Salmon Roll ($7.50), which turns out to be surprisingly good.
On another, we try Ramen ($7) and ask for spicy miso (not on the menu) and they are happy to oblige. Ramen is okay, nothing special, but if you’re craving something substantial to round out the meal, it suffices.
I am so happy to find this place. The service can be a little slow, but the food is well worth the wait. The staff is friendly and the most surprising thing was when the gal remembered my name from my first visit — she had read it off my credit card! Now that’s excellent customer service if you ask me!
Kaminariya Yakitori Dining
14071 Newport Ave
Tustin, CA 92780