Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Honoo Grill & Noodle Serves it up Yakitori Style
It's been a while since I've enjoyed yakitori-style dining, so when my We Heart Astoria colleagues, Meg, Mackenzi and I were asked to check out Honoo Grill & Noodle, I jumped at the chance. And while I do love me some sushi, I was excited to try something different as far as Japanese food is concerned - more specifically, something that reminded me of my not so distant trip to Japan.
Situated in a great location on Ditmars Blvd and 33rd Street, Honoo is subway friendly and receives great foot traffic, as it's in a bustling, commercial area. Hinomaru Ramen, no doubt a competitor is just a few doors down, and even though it also serves up Japanese cuisine, its feel is totally different.
The dining room at Honoo is long and narrow and the decor is very much focused on two colors - black and red. Together, it creates a soothing, sleek vibe and while it feels ultra modern, it's still comfortable and inviting. We sat at a nice four top with comfy booth seating, which aside from servicing groups of friends, can be a great place to sit when on a double date. I noticed the music that piped in through the speakers during the evening, and it was all modern pop, which I happen to dig. If you're an alternative head, beware - in case you'd find it annoying.
It was fun to share everything, including the apps and the yakitori. Since we had a veggie in our group, we mixed up our skewers between veggie and meat, which was fun. Even though I'm far from a vegetarian, I often enjoy veggie cuisine even more than meat, at times.
Veggie Spring Rolls - A classic way to start an Asian dinner, we chose these simple spring rolls, which were pretty satisfying. The interior boasted all the usual delicious suspects such as cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots, etc and a nicely crisp, golden shell. They went down easily and we loved dipping them into the sweet chili sauce, served on the side as a condiment.
Beef Tacos - Mmmm...the minute I heard tacos, I was excited to find out what these would be like. I appreciated the mix of Latin American inspiration with Asian flavors, as the tacos were made of fried wonton shells. The execution was inventive, and I also loved the sweet/tangy flavor of the beef that was further glazed with a semi-sweet sauce and topped with sharp jalapenos and lemony scallions.
Yakitori - This was the most fun part of the meal, as we got to choose what felt like an infinite amount of skewers. We chose two meats, including the spicy cumin lamb and the beef short ribs. Out of those, the former appealed to me more, as it was juicy and flavorful, with the deep flavors of cumin that added a warmth and comfort that felt appropriate on a chilly winter night.
The veggie skewers including the Japanese eggplant and the shiitake mushrooms were really awesome, boasting a lot of flavor that didn't even need to be enhanced with sauce. While I enjoyed these very much, they didn't fill me up and for a complete veggie meal, I'd probably have to order another 1-2 skewer plates to satisfy my hunger.
Service and Cost:
The staff at Honoo treated us really well, where they were generous and accommodating but not pushy. Sometimes I felt that they respected our space a little too much, and I would've been happy with our plates being cleared a bit sooner. While they are still very new and ironing kinks out, I believe this will improve over time.
Costs are extremely wallet-friendly and include:
Small Eats & Apps - $2-$8
Skewers - $1-$7
Noodles - $8-$12
Entrees - $14-$20
Dessert - $6
Honoo Grill & Noodle - 33-06 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd