Friday, January 07, 2011

Anjin (Costa Mesa, CA)

Anjin Restaurant
3033 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.979.6700 (restaurant has no web site)
Fri 01/07/2011, 09:05p-10:45p

Anjin Interior
At this point, I think most of us agree that Totoraku is the best yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) in the Southland. However, if you're an Angeleno who hasn't been granted the Golden Ticket to Totoraku, you might consider Manpuku, Sansui Tei, or Tamaen for your Japanese BBQ cravings. In Orange County, people seem to be divided into two camps: one in favor of Anjin, and one that prefers Tsuruhashi. I'm a fan of the latter, but figured that it was time for me to see what the fuss was all about at Anjin.

Anjin Drink Menu Anjin Drink Menu Anjin Menu Anjin Menu Anjin Menu Anjin Menu
Anjin's menu is fairly expansive and contains all your favorite yakiniku cuts, as well as a selection of the requisite Korean-inspired dishes. Click for larger versions.

Salted Tongue
Salted Tongue [$8.25]
Ever since I had an amazing preparation of tan during my first visit to Totoraku, the meat has been an absolute must for me when it comes to Japanese barbeque. Anjin's version wasn't quite as revelatory, but was delicious nonetheless--lightly salted, with a heady, luscious beefiness that was deftly countered by a bit of the provided lemon juice. I also appreciated the meat's texture, with its subtle bit of rubberiness and bite.

Marbled Prime Boneless Short Rib
Marbled Prime Boneless Short Rib [$8.95]
Here was the karubi, Anjin's take on classic Korean galbi (marinated short ribs). The meat was nicely marbled, and showed off a prototypical, yet immensely satisfying flavor, deftly set off by a touch of bitterness from the char.

Pork Cheek
Pork Cheek [$6.50]
I actually preferred this pork cheek to Tsuruhashi's version, which I found overly tough. This preparation was a bit more tender, a bit more fatty, with a restrained, yet distinctly porcine flavor.

Spicy Cold Noodles
Spicy Cold Noodles [$6.50]
Taking a break from all the meat, next up was a bowl of spicy cold noodles, done in the same vein as a Korean bibim guksu. I appreciated the noodles' bright, clean flavors and piquant heat, perked up with just a touch of tangy sweetness. Very nice.

Marbled Prime Rib Eye
Marbled Prime Rib Eye [$11.95]
For me, the rib eye (rosu) was easily the most luxurious course of the night. As you'd expect, the meat arrived tender, juicy, and unabashedly beefy, yet well balanced and not overly heavy or rich.

Pork Belly
Pork Belly [$6.50]
You can think of this as samgyeopsal, or Korean-style uncured bacon. Compared to the pork cheek above, the belly was fattier and more flavorful, with a silkier mouth feel.

Home Made Radish Kimchi
Home Made Radish Kimchi [$3.75]
We should've started the meal with this. It's kkakdugi or mu kimchi, basically kimchi made with daikon radish instead of napa cabbage (baechu). Light, spicy, and refreshingly crunchy, this was a great change of pace from the weight of all the preceding meat.

Marinated Raw Beef with Egg Yolk
Marinated Raw Beef with Egg Yolk [$6.95]
We concluded the evening with yukhoe, otherwise known as a Korean streak tartar. The version here was serviceable, but paled in comparison to what I'd had previously. The meat lacked distinctiveness, and the various ingredients didn't meld as well as I'd hoped for.

This wasn't the best yakiniku meal that I've had, but it was certainly an enjoyable one. I'd perhaps give a slight edge here to Tsuruhashi, which seems just a bit more polished, though a revisit there is certainly in order.


Blogger :Doah said...

looks heavenly. i miss asian food more than anything out here. london is great, but falls shorts in so many ways.

Monday, October 10, 2011 5:36:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

you forgot the best part, it's open past midnight! :D

We can here after a pretty subpar meal at Napa Rose and it hit the spot.

Monday, October 10, 2011 1:36:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Doah: You've been in London for a long time--when are you coming back???

Charlie: I did not know that. I'll have to keep this place in mind for late night eats next time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 2:08:00 PM  

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