Of the many things for which I'm proud of this infernal rag—the innocent people sprung from jail, the dirty politicians deposed from office, the multiple trends we've identified long before anyone else—there's one trait I guarantee no one else in American media will ever brag about: our teriyaki-bowl coverage. Over the past decade, we've documented the humble meal studiously in the Weekly, while most other food critics have scoffed. Edwin has waxed rhapsodic about Yoshinoya many times; I've penned multiple odes to the Japanese-Mexican offerings at MOS 2 in SanTana and Anaheim, a chain as much of each city's Mexican identity as the Shake Shack was for a previous generation of surfers.
Why the fuss about bowls? To paraphrase George Mallory's line about Everest, because they're there. But also because a great bowl is among the most fiendishly simple meals to pull off, at its essence just two ingredients—rice and your choice of either meat or veggies—sloshed in a sauce. OC's bowl world has many so-so entries, but few great ones—and Tikiyaki is a recent entry into the latter category. Don't get fooled by the name: The only things tropical about this place are the pineapple chunks grilled alongside the fabulous orange chicken and stock Hawaiian décor on the walls seemingly bought from Old Navy. No, this is straightforward bowl country, with teriyaki beef, chicken, shrimp and veggies ruling the menu, and a couple of appetizers (crunchy coconut shrimp, golden egg rolls) thrown in. A small order has so much meat piled over its rice base that the lip of your Styrofoam bowl serves as the equator between the rice and meat sections. They're all amazing, with containers of Sriracha, Tapatío and teriyaki sauce to doctor up your meal even more.
No hipsters ever seem to stop by Tikiyaki, and the lunchtime crowd leans heavily toward Orange Fire Department and working-class Chicanos who grew up on the stuff. Foodies don't bother with the cuisine of the hoi polloi, but we do. So with Jeebus as my witness, we'll hail bowl palaces such as Tikiyaki as long as I'm the boss or the drought drives all of us away from California—whichever comes first!