Huntington Beach will always consider itself working-class, and the proof is in the most popular restaurants 'round town: breakfast cafés, Thai spots, taquerías, delis, juice bars, all genres in which cheap prices yield you heaping portions. That's why I'm always surprised that teriyaki dives never really took off in Surf City. Oh, you'll find some Waba Grills, but the teriyaki bowl doesn't dominate city stomachs as it does in, say, Anaheim or SanTana.
Really, residents who want to gorge themselves on the humble, filling meal should stick to Yamas Teriyaki House. It has been around for years now, a place that's bigger than it should be because all it does is beef, chicken, shrimp and veggies, served inside a bowl or as a plate—that's it. But the execution is legit: The meat is always thick and succulent, the rice acting as a sponge to absorb any meat juices. Drown it with the bottles of teriyaki sauce, Sriracha and Tabasco provided on all tables. There's a cooler with sodas, a rack with chips and a soda fountain—and that's the restaurant.
Yamas' teriyaki is good enough that there's a second spot in Westminster. For $7, it's buck-for-buck as filling a meal as you'll find. It's working-class to the core—so why isn't it more popular in Huntington Beach? I'd say that teriyaki bowls are too prole for the city—it's just plain food nowadays, the Asian equivalent of chicken pot pie and other Midwest dishes that long ago fell out of favor. Maybe it's because I grew up on teriyaki bowls, but I feel OC foodies should give the grub more respect, starting at Yamas.
On that note: Last time I was at the HB branch, I overheard a conversation between the owner and a longtime customer. Seems Yamas had a great summer, but the fall has been slow. So go help out Yamas, gentle readers—sure, it's just teriyaki bowls, but that's like saying Vin Scully was just someone who talked.
Yamas Teriyaki House, 19091 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 596-3908; also at 13102 Goldenwest St., Ste. B, Westminster, (714) 899-8425.