Tsuruhashi is a massively popular joint that serves yakiniku, essentially the Japanese interpretation of Korean barbecue, explains exilekiss. It’s insanely crowded—the wait for a table can be anywhere from 45 minutes to, on some weekends, two hours. Most people just call ahead of time, leave their cell phone number, and wait for a call when their table is almost ready.
Inside, every table has its own grill, kept burning with a combination of Japanese charcoal and gas. The menu is complex, with many grades of each kind of meat.
Jotan shio—prime beef tongue—is splendid, says exilekiss: “extremely tender, with a very clean and pure beefiness.” Kurabuto bara (Berkshire natural pork belly) is the purest pork belly he’s ever had, and the accompanying homemade miso sauce cuts its fattiness nicely. Tsura (pork cheek) has a pleasingly thick, layered texture.
exilekiss particularly appreciates hatsu, which is beef heart. It’s marinated in fermented chile and soybean paste, and it’s outstanding—tender yet firm silken slivers. But the biggest surprise for exilekiss was nama reba, very fresh beef liver sashimi, which was “silky smooth, supple, delicate and having *none* of the taste normally associated with liver,” says exilekiss. “It tasted like the best silken tofu, but with a slightly beefy quality.”
The most prized item on the menu is kobe ro-su, U.S. Kobe rib-eye cap. This is often sold out. Tender, delicate, and lightly sweet, it’s levels above every other item on the menu, and is good rare, medium rare, and medium, reports exilekiss. The next best thing is puraimu ribu joro-su, U.S. Prime rib-eye cap, which is soft, tender, and meaty, says exilekiss. Kobe jobara, U.S. Kobe boneless short rib, is the highest grade of short rib offered, and it is well-marbled and amazingly creamy. It’s best medium rare, suggests exilekiss.
Ninniku oiru yaki, roasted garlic in sesame oil, pairs well with all of Tsuruhashi’s meats.
Tsuruhashi Japanese B.B.Q. [Orange County]
18798 Brookhurst Street, Fountain Valley