Hinotez - Grand Opening

>> Sunday, October 2, 2011

Date of Dining: 9/23/2011
Price: about $8 per bowl of noodles
Location: 7947 Balboa Ave. San Diego, CA 92111

The Quick Bit:
+ Increased variety of Japanese noodle dishes
+ Well-prepared noodle dishes
+ Larger location than Yakyudori
Δ Some kinks have yet to be worked out with the grand opening

Hinotez is the the newest brainchild of the Hinotetsu restaurant group, who is also responsible for Yakyudori. Hinotez is a menrui-ya, which is just to say it's a casual noodle restaurant. Much like the Star Trek reboot, Hinotez seems to be a Yakyudori reboot with an expanded menu and a larger dining room to accommodate the larger crowds. There are updated special effects come in the form of a more upscale dining room complete with lens flare
Ok I lied about the lens flare, but it is a nicely updated dining room. In addition (not pictured) there is a dining area in the back as well as a private dining room.
While I did miss the soft opening, I did manage to make it to Hinotez for the "grand opening." I guess you can say I missed the midnight showing but caught the movie on opening night. At the time of the visit, Hinotez does not have a liquor license. Knowing this would be likely, I brought a bottle and asked if we could open it, but the restaurant refused. They must have been thinking that I brought Romulan Ale and not just a regular beer. The party in the private dining room seemed a little inebriated raucous though; clearly they actually did bring the Romulan Ale...

fried oysters
karage - fried chicken
takoyaki - octopus fritter balls topped with bonito shavings
All the appetizers suffered from the getting the kinks worked out of a new restaurant. I suspect the fryer was new and they were still following the cooking times of an older fryer since every fried item seemed a little overcooked.
The flavors and seasonings corresponded exactly with what you would get at Yakyudori. If you enjoyed these items at Yakyudori, you are just as likely to enjoy them at Hinotez.

tonkotsu ramen
tantan (spicy sesame) ramen
miso tonkotsu ramen
Unlike Yakyudori, the tonkotsu ramen is available during all hours at Hinotez. I had just a little of each of the ramen and they seemed to suffer a little when compared to Yakyudori. The noodles in the tonkotsu ramen were a little overcooked. The table was happy with the flavors of the tantan ramen, but it seemed to be missing an egg (not sure if it's supposed to come with one).

hot udon - tempura and tororo (grated mountain potato)
At Hinotez, the noodle dishes are ordered as a plain noodle and then toppings are added for additional charge. The plain noodles seem to simply be the noodles in dash garnished with some green onions, and then the additional toppings are added on top or on the side. Although I didn't get to taste this dish, I'm going to go ahead and pull a Kobayashi Maru result (beat the impossible) and say that I thought this was a good dish. It certainly looks good and those who tried it seemed to enjoy it.

Cold Soba:
cold dipping soba - assorted tempura
The menu features cold dipping soba vs cold soba, but I'm not sure what the difference was. I went ahead and got the dipping soba, which came with a green onion and wasabi garnish and a huge bowl to dip in. The wasabi appeared to be the powdered wasabi, but you can't really expect fresh wasabi at the $4.50 (plain) price point. The soba was well prepared and all the flavors were enjoyable. I would love to see a fresh wasabi topping for this for some additional charge, but I don't think that is going to happen.

Overall I was pleased with Hinotez. The visit was not without its flaws as spoons were not provided with every dish that required it when they came out, and service was generally slow. However, I have confidence that these minor issues will get worked out in time. I have a feeling that Hinotez is going to live long and prosper, but the service ruined it's chances of receiving an award during this visit. I do plan to return in the future and see if the issues are worked out.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
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