If you’ve resolved to eat less meat in 2017, you should probably stop reading now. YakiYan is quite possibly the meatiest meeting place to open off of the 60.
YakiYan, which has been operating in Taipei since 2004, opened its first U.S. location in Hacienda Heights this past December. As a yakiniku concept (Japanese barbecue), YakiYan takes great pride in serving the finest meat, locally sourced whenever possible. It’s all about pedigreed proteins around here.
The Astronomer and I stopped in on opening night to give the restaurant a go. Full disclosure: YakiYan is backed by my employer, Panda Restaurant Group. All opinions expressed here are my own.
To start, we each ordered a cocktail. For me, the Bloody Ox ($12) with Cimarron Blanco tequila, beet juice, yuzu koshu, and lime. For him, a Red Crowned Crane ($12) with Royal Gate vodka, ginger, lime, and lychee. Both were well-balanced and refreshing—just what we needed prior to the parade of grilled meats.
The omakase ($88) began with a chawanmushi for each of us. The ever-so-delicate egg custard was topped with shiitake mushrooms and a sliver of sea urchin.
Next, we moved on to a trio of raw ribeye preparations. There was a done-up carpaccio with ponzu jelly and almond slivers, a tartare with a quail egg yolk, truffle oil, and salt, and my favorite, thin slices of unadorned tataki, simply seared with nothing else.
The grilling portion of the meal began with thickly sliced Black Angus tongue seasoned with salt and pepper. Our waiter Ivan prepared it to perfection on the table-side grill—rare for me and medium rare for The Astronomer. The tongue was tasty straight up, but even better with the lemon-scallion sauce served alongside.
And then there was crudite—a snappy collection of cucumber, jicama, and carrots served with red miso paste. We ate the veggies throughout the meal whenever we needed to take a break from the meat.
Two cuts of USDA prime ribeye arrived next: cap and inside. Both were grilled table-side and minimally marinated for maximum beefiness.
The ribeye cap has been a favorite cut of mine ever since I was introduced to it at Trois Mec a few years back. YakiYan’s simple but deft preparation yielded a juicy and tender steak that completely hit the mark.
We moved to American Wagyu next. The two cuts of boneless short rib, traditional and diamond-cut, were impressively marbled.
The short rib was easily one of the richest cuts of the evening.
The chilled Momotaro tomato arrived at the perfect time. Marinated for three hours in vinegar and ponzu, the tangy-sweet tomato was just what our palates craved after the ultra-rich short rib.
And speaking of ultra-rich, the Japanese Wagyu was even more intensely marbled. Sliced paper-thin and briefly warmed on the grill, the meat was tender and insanely unctuous. The sesame sauce served alongside cut a bit of the richness, but man, that was something kind of decadent.
A cool shot of sweetened yuzu juice cleansed our palates following the Japanese Wagyu.
One of best courses of the night featured filet mignon, which was grilled table-side and served atop bone marrow rice with a garlicky sauce made from beef renderings.
Our waiter mixed the oven-roasted marrow into the rice, along with kimchi, scallions, and seaweed.
The finished dish was as glorious to eat as it was to behold.
The final savory course was the outside skirt steak from Snake River Farms. Marinated in salt and pepper, and served with a white ponzu sauce, the flavorful cut provided a satisfying conclusion to the meat portion of our feast.
The final bites of the night were creamy and cool scoops of black sesame and green tea ice creams.
YakiYan served up a well-paced, thoughtful, and delicious yakiniku experience. Ivan, our personable waiter slash table-side chef, was a knowledgeable guide throughout the evening, sharing a breadth of information and passion for the beef he was preparing. At $88 per person, with no a la carte menu available, YakiYan is definitely a splurge, but when the urge for red meat strikes, why not go for gold?
17188 Colima Road
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745