friendly hellos from Linda Kyung and co-owner husband chef Denny who
is chopping and slicing at the nine-stool sushi bar tucked in a back
corner of the restaurant.
If a quick light lunch is on your agenda, try the Teriyaki Beef
Bowl ($6.50) -- large and deep, it has nine or 10 long, mostly tender
beef strips covered with dark sweet sauce and a pile of crisp bean
sprouts and chunky broccoli flowers on the other. It's very filling,
easy to handle with chop sticks and the sort of dish found in the
many small eating places in Tokyo.
Here, it is served with a small bowl of miso soup strewn with dark
green seaweed and tofu cubes, the kind you can pick up and sip to
inhale the aromatic misty flavor. All lunches also include a small
mixed green salad.
But if you crave more, I love the Bento Box Lunch ($8.50), a black
and red lacquered box divided into compartments each filled with
various foods. In Japan the bento is popular in the 5,000 train
stations that sell unique boxes that reflect the cooking of each
At Soya, my box has three California rolls -- sticky rice around
black seaweed, a bit of avocado and threads of crab meat, as well as
a section with dark pungent chicken teriyaki, tempura-dipped shrimp,
carrots, squash and zucchini and two half moon-shaped gyoza filled,
like ravioli, with minced vegetables -- bite sized dumplings that are
delicious. Bentos include a big mound of sticky rice to alternate
between the range of tastes and textures, mild and spicy. It's the
way the Japanese do things, not only with food but picture-perfect
If you decide to try tempura, there is a Tempura Lunch ($6.95),
which has long al dente green beans, carrots and yams dipped in the
airiest, translucent batter that lightly coats the still-crisp
vegetables. Tempura is a technique the Japanese learned from the
Portuguese explorers years ago.
Don't leave without trying mochi -- short-grained glutenous rice
that is pounded into sheets and wrapped in balls of ice cream. At
Soya the Kona coffee and strawberry are the best to my taste -- like
a treat from the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Soya has taken over the location previously occupied by Hajime.
Owners Linda and Denny Kyung had a restaurant with the same name in
Los Angeles but came to Huntington Beach in October, 2001. They make
a good pair with friendly smiling Linda serving diners and focused,
serious Denny preparing sushi. It is a treasure.
* MARY FURR is the Independent restaurant critic. If you have
comments or suggestions, call (562) 493-5062 or e-mail