I usually try to contain myself and wait a bit before trying out a new restaurant. I'd just mentioned that Yakyudori's second branch would open today. A good example of waiting for a bit until the "kinks" are worked out would be San Diego's Santouka, whereas my first visit really wasn't quite that good, the problems where worked out by my subsequent visits. But today, the opportunity arose to grab a bite at Yakyudori, with two of my favorite FOYs(Friends of Yoso), Candice and Howie. So of course I jumped at it.
I was quite interested to see what changes have been made to the very "fast-foodish" interior of the former BBQ Express Teriyaki. I like the warmer colors, the sort of casual (all the beer posters of course) Japanese Pubish interior, and there's even a "bar" area for solo, or dual slurping....
The menu is small, and there's no yakitori yet, as I believe they are waiting for their liquor license. Six types of ramen, and a couple of small dishes. One of which, Takoyaki ($4.50) we ordered.
I've not had a great deal of Takoyaki, but this was just kinda mediocre in my opinion. First off, it was on the dark side, but lacked that thin layer of crispness. Also, I like the interior to be molten, and creamy, this one was just barely hot and gummy. I enjoyed the "sauce" used, which tasted a bit like a mild Nihai-zu, a vinegar-soy-dashi based sauce. The mayo was overkill in my opinion.... but I'm sure that there're folks who just love the stuff.
I ordered a Shio Ramen($6.50), and noticed in the photo there was corn in it. I prefer to have it sans corn, and ordered it that way. The bowl arrived, and the aroma was excellent, so familiar, and so comforting.
You'll quickly notice that this isn't "Tonkotsu style" (milky pork bone soup) broth. And I'm kinda glad it's not. I love the simple, yet complex tones of a good Shio or Shoyu broth. There is just enough oil to keep you satiated, and the umami flavors come through unmuddled. The noodles were perfect, a bit of stretch, a nice chew to them. I'm thinking that I prefer these to Santouka right now, but perhaps it's just an infatuation with the new kid on the block. One thing for sure.... this sure ain't your standard issue JFC type noodles.....
The egg was wonderful, the yolk was seductively soft and first mildy resisted, than yielded to your bite. The wonderful flavors of soy with a touch of sweetness came through clearly. There was a hiccup or two, to be expected during a grand opening. My bowl arrived with one slice of Chashu, which the young lady quickly swept back to the counter to add the second slice. The second slice of pork was on the dry, grainy side, perhaps because it hadn't had enough time in the jacuzzi. The flavors were as to be expected, rich and decadent, seemingly a bit more homemade than the richly polished version at Santouka. I also think the broth could stand to be a bit hotter, though this type of clear broth stands up better under less heat than a tonkotsu style broth. Also there were a couple of kernals of corn in my broth, so I figure that the kitchen started putting it together, and did an "oopsie". No harm, no foul.
As far as I'm concerned, this was miles above anything Chopstix, Gunco, or Teri Cafe could produce, and I'm glad there's another option for ramen. When I need to be fortified, it'll be Santouka. On those days when I want comfort, there's now Yakyudori.
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori
4898 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
Open 1130 am to 3am daily.