I should've seen it coming. There were hints. Though the food was great, the restaurant was often deserted. Bari Bari BBQ, the mom-and-pop yakiniku that opened barely four months ago in Tustin after a long delay, has gone up in smoke. It is now replaced by one of the giants of yakiniku, Gyu-Kaku, which boasts something on the order of 800 restaurants in Japan and eight in California, including one in Huntington Beach.
This Tustin branch will be the ninth in California. The switchover is happening as we speak, and details are still sketchy. But methinks there's really not a lot of work to be done to the place, and the food will be almost identical.
What will be interesting is whether they will replace the grills. Bari Bari used a solid-metal cooking surface, while Gyu-Kaku's signature yakiniku grills feature metal-wire lattice grates.
Will the instant name recognition of Gyu-Kaku overcome the awkwardness of the location? We'll see.