I noticed a sign up one recent morning visit that said grilling of Yakitori will finally start February 10th. Still without booze license at the moment. Would be nice if they allowed a BYOB until then, like how Okan did when they opened. The grilling will happen in the back kitchen so the entertainment factor will be somewhat lacking. I already suggested they should have a GoPro or other inexpensive camera/flat screen monitor set up for the customers to be able to see skewers sizzling away. At least for me, at least when I'm in a restaurant, it'd beat ESPN or VH1 any day.
Hinotez also starts to-go Bentos...
Get them while they're still warm in the morning, while supplies last. Or they can be ordered/reserved by phone from as early as 6:30AM (though I believe 7AM is actual opening time). Nice option to know since any of the Japanese Markets in the area don't operate from at least 10AM. I can grab a quick breakfast and my lunch for later at the same time.
The 'Healthy Bento' starts at 5-bucks (comes with a side salad), the slightly heartier 'Hinotez Bento' is 6 (with miso soup) but they were out the morning, and a (Pork) Katsu Sando for 5.
I thought the Healthy Bento was a nice fill for the money. This day a Tori and Tamago Soboro main (the combination often called nishoku-gohan (二色ごはん) for its two colors) with lighter Japanese potato salad, Chikuzenni, boiled spinach Ohitashi and Hijiki seaweed side.
Despite the refrigeration then reheating later in my microwave for lunch, the chicken and egg soboro was moist and flaky, a pleasant light flavor to boot. But the star was definitely the Chikuzenni below (also called Iridori). A type of braised dish of chicken and root vegetables.
Though the actual chicken pieces were sparse, the extra large chunky vegetables were great and everything seasoned perfectly with good dashi and light mirin sweetness. Renkon (lotus root), Gobo (burdock root), carrots, Konjac and Shiitake mushrooms. The side salad is not shown but basic leafy lettuce with a sweet/tart ginger ponzu style dressing.
Katsu Sandwich also came with a small salad. Wished I had it right then while it was still warm but ate most of it for dinner much later in the day. I can easily tell both the bento and sandwich were made with a lot of care.
The box quality was of one of those reusable GladWare containers. Score. But anyhow, I often buy the Katsu Sando sold at Nijiya Market which isn't bad but this one had much better balance of bread to katsu ratio. Also I liked that the cabbage was very finely shredded. Coarse chunky cabbage being one of my pet peeves, be it in a Sando or Fish Taco, at least when talking fresh.
The bread was lightly toasted and the hot mustard in the spread was a nice touch too. Personally I'm more of a Menchi Katsu Sando fan (another older from Sakura here), but I thought this was a nicely executed version with maybe a Panko upgrade on the cutlet and trimming the ears off the shokupan only improvements I can think of at the moment.
This was actually maybe my third or fourth visit for breakfast (first visit here). Despite the last couple times I was the only customer, they seem to be hanging in there. Really hope they continue with the concept. Yes most of the breakfast offering is nothing I can't make at home, but so are bacon and eggs. It's all about the convenience and having more options in town.
And now with free rice and miso soup refills, I'm guaranteed a good fill. This day was the Basic Set ($3), Japanese Curry ($2), Onsen Tamago ($1). Japanese breakfast or not, gotta have my egg fix! ;)
Hinotez Japanese Restaurant, 7947 Balboa Ave, San Diego, CA 92111