Looking for a place to eat at 11:30 pm on the Westside during a week night is no easy task. There are of course the usual diners and the Brazilian place that over cooks nearly everything on their menu, but my friend Mika was starving and wanted something good. We were willing to try something new before resorting to the old mediocre standbys.
We saw the neon "Open" sign at Asian-Ya as we were driving to the mediocre places and Mika did a U-Turn, saying, "I hope they are good" as she turned into their parking lot. We were willing to chance it and we grew hopeful as we saw half the tables filled with young students, and the posted hours said open until 00:00 (Mika translated and told me it means midnight).
They are a bit of a sake bar, with a menu devoted to flavors ranging from dry to sweet, made from sweet potato, barley, and rice. Prices ranged from $5 to $15 a glass and a "glass" is a ceramic cup that is big enough to hold about 8 oz. For some strange reason when I asked for my sake cold, they put ice IN the sake. I didn't mind since I had not chosen a $15 sake, but be forewarned if you do want your sake cold and order a premium sake.
Since I was along mainly for company, not because I was hungry, I chose the clams in sake for $7. They were very flavorful and tender. The broth was so delicious that I could have drunk it as a soup.
Mika ordered the Miso Eggplant which had a slightly sweet paste and the toasted sesame seeds added a nice smoky crunch to the soft eggplant.
Mika also chose the shrimp fried rice which was she liked so much she kept eating spoonfuls even after she declared, "I'm full" . It was also a very generous serving, easily enough for two.
Mika's eyes were bigger than her stomach, so she only finish about half of everything she ordered, including the grilled mackerel, which was done classically and well; not too dry, and not too oily.
The mackerel dish also came with miso soup and the grand total for everything we ate (and all the food that Mika took home) and drank (Mika had a hot tea) was only $36!
It was a steal considering the quality of the food and the wide selection (there are some Korean choices on the menu as well as ramen, curry, and exotic grilled meats like beef tongue and gizzards). Even with these prices, they have a happy hour from 5-7pm with drinks priced below the already reasonable menu prices.
I think we may have found our late night spot on the Westside open and serving with a smile at 00:00:-)