When you think of Fullerton, Asian food is probably not the first thing that immediately comes to mind. Up until the last three years, the selection of quality Asian restaurants in Fullerton has been sparse. Often relegated to the few locations in Downtown Fullerton, residents normally have had to drive outside of the city.
Just on the edge of the Cal State Fullerton campus, the famous Taiwanese 85° Bakery Cafe has set up shop to offer its extremely popular pastries and drinks.
Start off the day right with an iced sea salt coffee and buttery brioche, taro bun, or Berrytale. Their signature Berrytale is a puffed dome pastry filled with blueberry cream cheese and topped with a dollop of blueberry jam. Be careful, these blueberry concoctions are addicting. You have been warned! If the sweet options just don’t interest you, don’t worry. The bakery also has a number of savory offerings as well as a number of classic Asian and European pastries, breads, and cakes.
It’s time for lunch! Just blocks away from 85° is a newcomer in town, Mr. Katsu. Just opened last year, Mr. Katsu specializes in Japanese fried pork cutlet (katsu) sandwiches. No longer do you have to head over to Curry House or Mitsuwa to satisfy your katsu needs!
The chefs use extremely fresh and high quality ingredients at each step of sandwich construction. Go with the Original or Katsu Curry options, with your choice of either pork cutlet, chicken cutlet or grilled chicken. Whether it be the lightly dressed and vibrant coleslaw, the plump and golden brown fried pork cutlet, the thick buttery slabs of Texas toast, or the mild and nuanced vegetable curry, Mr. Katsu is certainly firing on all cylinders. They also offer imported Japanese craft beer and sodas to go with your meal.
Just down the road from Mr. Katsu is your late night dinner destination, Honda-Ya. Honda-Ya is a Japanese izakaya, a casual after-work drinking establishment that also offers food. In May of 2012, Izakaya Honda-Ya expanded its business to Fullerton, taking over an old Sizzler just blocks away from CSUF.
Honda-Ya is known for its massive menu. Catering to vegetarians and carnivores alike, the restaurant has a dizzying number of menu options that range from traditional Japanese appetizers, sushi, sashimi, salads, tempura, deep fried dishes, baked dishes, stewed items, stir fried, rice bowls, rice balls, udon, soba, ramen, rice porridge, to yakitori which is their specialty.
Beyond the all-encompassing Japanese menu, the restaurant is unique in that it offers customers the option to have tatami (floor) room seating. This is a special elongated room along the side of the restaurant that is covered in tatami mats and tables that are roughly a foot off of ground level. Patrons must sit down cross-legged in this area without shoes in order to eat. If you have a bad back this style of seating might not be for you.
Once seated, start off with some drinks and Yakitori. Yakitori are typically skewered bits of chicken and other meats or vegetables grilled over bincho-tan charcoal. Anything from the grill is recommended, especially the salmon or yellowtail collar. If you’re in the mood for something beyond the grill, explore the menu and try something new! They are sure to have something that will pique your interest.
Information about the restaurants mentioned in the article can be found at www.85cafe.us, www.mrkatsu.com, and www.izakayahondaya.com.