Excellent | Worth a Detour
Yaki’s The Original Teriyaki Bowl
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Southern California is chock full of char-broiled burger stands. Some offer pastrami or gyros or chili, and many offer parallel menus of tacos and burritos. Just a few are Hawaiian-inspired teriyaki char-broilers. Among them, Yaki’s towers above the pack.
Yaki’s claims to have invented the teriyaki bowl. Like all successful burger stands with a twist, there are many imitators; and still today you see teriyaki bowls all around Southern California, from Japanese restaurants to Jack-in-the Box. Since their peak in the 1990s, teriyaki bowls have mostly given way to poke bowls. Trendy or not, Burbank still loves Yaki’s.
Beyond the bowl, the most peculiar and publicized item at Yaki’s is the “Bulldog.” It’s a thick, short hotdog wrapped in American cheese and a wonton wrapper, then fried like an egg roll. As if that weren’t wicked enough, the dog is served with a signature dipping sauce that is a squirt each of teriyaki and thousand islands dressing.
The teriyaki bowls are great, their chicken packing light smoky taste from the fire grill, their rice fresh and pleasantly toothsome. Sauce borders on too sweet, but it works well with the salty meat. The cabbage slaw is blanched to take the sharpness away, but it still retains some crunch.
“On fire,” “bravo” and “suicide bowls” are for those who prefer heat to sweet. We usually fall into this category, but found we preferred house Teriyaki. You have the option of getting a plate instead of a bowl, which comes with extra rice and an ice-cream scoop of excellent, house-made potato salad. You also have an option of teriyaki beef or a combination of chicken and beef. Go with the chicken. It responds to the sauce and the marinade and hot grill much better than the beef does.
Another great choice is the “Yako Cheeseburger,” a char-broiled burger topped with a long, thin slab of teriyaki chicken, grilled onions, American cheese and a slather of the teriyaki and thousand islands house dipping sauce. When the sweet teriyaki and the creamy thousand island combine, it works like a BBQ sauce, and the thin, smokey chicken plays like bacon against the grilled onions. The resulting burger is like a “Western Cheeseburger” with an Asian twist. It is one of Los Angeles’s most underrated hamburgers. Pastrami, bacon, avocado and grilled rings of canned pineapple are also available as burger toppings if the idea of putting a grilled chicken breast on a burger seems too carnivorous.
Don’t skip dessert. The signature yakisito is one of the tastiest and most original things on the menu. It’s a thick rice pudding wrapped in a tortilla and fried. The strong cinnamon flavor of the goop within makes this eat like an inside out churro.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner, Dessert|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|