Izakaya Hachi (Costa Mesa, Ca, December 2022)

Here is my penultimate restaurant report from our trip to Southern California in December. It was not our penultimate meal—that, unfortunately, was our less-than-great sushi meal at Koi—but it was one of our better meals, even if it took us deeper into Orange County, to Costa Mesa. (I’m still in denial that on our trips to L.A we are now based in Orange County.) Izakaya Hachi does have a Torrance location as well but the Costa Mesa branch is an easier drive from Seal Beach on a week night. It was a rainy week night, as it happens and so we were in the mood for some good izakaya food when we arrived. Luckily, Hachi did not disappoint.

As with almost every restaurant in Los Angeles, they are located in a large strip mall, which is home to restaurants of various types. Hachi seemed to be the busiest of the lot. Luckily, we had a reservation; but we still had to wait a bit. Once seated, and with drinks in hand (a Sapporo for me, soft drinks for the boys), we got down to serious business.

The missus and I opened with a Kumamoto oyster each. A good opening. Then started what should have been a parade of fried and grilled things: fried Jidori chicken wing (very good); whole grilled squid (excellent); agedashi tofu (good); grilled beef tongue (very good). And then things got stuck for a while. We eventually flagged down our server who informed us that we had been served everything we’d asked for and asked if we wanted the check. No, said I, we actually haven’t yet got most of what we ordered; upon which she realized that she had not put in the orders for our skewers. After a bit of a pause these began to arrive: nankotsu/chicken cartilage (very good); tsukune/chicken meatball (very good); negima/chicken thigh (excellent); and duck breast (excellent).

While waiting for the skewers we’d taken the opportunity to also order a shrimp tempura udon (excellent) and two onigiri/rice balls, one with salmon and one with mentaiko/spicy cod roe—both were very good. Feeling quite full, we called it quits at this point.

For a look at the restaurant and what we ate, click on an image below to launch a larger slideshow. Scroll down for more thoughts on the meal, the price, and to see what’s coming next.

As you have surmised from the above, we liked the meal very much. Most things were in the very good to excellent category. I had been tempted to order some nigiri sushi as well but held off since we were due to eat at Koi the following evening. After that meal at Koi, I very much regretted not having indulged at Hachi. Ah well, next time.

Two reservations about the experience.1) There was a slight, unpleasant (non-food) aroma in our part of the dining room. 2) Service was a bit lackadaisical, as evidenced by both the ordering mix-up and by a general disinterest on the part of our server in what was happening at our table. They were busy, yes, but the situation seemed to be more that she was a bit too laidback, rather than frantic.

Price? About $195 with tax and tip. Not cheap (though it must be said it was quite a bit cheaper at our far inferior meal at Koi the next day) but pretty good value in Southern California for food of this kind. We will be back—whether at this location or in Torrance.

Alright, the one remaining Southern California report is also from Orange County but takes in a far more casual eating experience. That will be on Sunday. Tomorrow I may have a report on another Delhi meal in January.



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