Sometimes finding the best restaurant is through word-of-mouth. This seems to hold true to Tikiyaki, a tiny Asian/ Hawaiian restaurant located in a small strip mall across the street from a Panera and a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the Orange mall.
Two things were commonly said about this place:
– The Asian guy/owner of the place can be a bit grumpy or abrasive
– The prices are fair, the portions are hearty
I found one of the two above mentioned things to be true. Upon walking in, I found this tiny store to be empty at 6:00. I had a puzzled look on my face, as I was supposed to be meeting Karen here. The owner asked if I was at the right place, and I said I believe I am if this place is called Tikiyaki. He dryly said I am in the right place. Then, I told him I was going to wait until Karen arrived before ordering, and with a dry sense of humor he responded it is polite to wait for your friend.
It was our first time here and I told him I heard he serves large portions. He nodded and took out a small bowl, a medium bowl, and a large styrofoam box. He commented that his entrées are filled to the top, but I couldn’t go wrong with his specials as he felt it was “a good deal”.
Not sure what to order, we decided on ordering the special posted on the banner outside. He said the specials was either the teriyaki chicken and veggies, or the orange chicken bowl. We picked the teriyaki chicken, and the special came with a soft drink for $5.99 plus tax.
He told us to have a seat and that it would be about 10 to 15 minutes for the food. While we were waiting for our food, more customers came trickling in. Most of the people took the food to go, which was good considering the place holds about 20 people. The regular customers called their orders in, as the phone was ringing constantly during the time we were waiting.
Sauces: from teriyaki to habanero to sriracha
Our food came out with chicken piled on top of a bed of steaming white sticky rice. I forgot that I had the option of brown rice, so I made a note to ask next time. The teriyaki chicken was tender and delicious. For this order, he used thigh meat, but for $1 more, you can ask for all white meat.
The sauce he used was not overly sweet, yet flavorful enough where I felt that I did not have to add more to my meal. Underneath a pile of my chicken was about five large stems of broccoli and steamed cabbage. The broccoli was cooked al dente, without any seasoning, but I was able to mix in the teriyaki sauce to flavor it.
The teriyaki bowl
I can see why people really liked coming here. It may be a tiny place, but the flow of foot traffic was nonstop from the time we stepped in, until we left. The owner suggested to call in your order during lunch, but do not expect the food to be ready in five minutes, even with a call-in. He said to allow him to prepare the food and give him at least 15 to 20 minutes.
If you have a tolerance for spicy food, he suggested his volcano chicken or volcano shrimp would be a good dish to try. If you’re an extremely hearty eater, the plates would be worthwhile, as it comes with even more food, an eggroll and a salad. The chicken bowl was plenty for me, and an excellent value. I think the next time I’ll try the steak, or the 1/2 and 1/2 combo, as the chicken was THAT good!