Yaki's: Is it the Rocky of teriyaki?

Bill Scollon

In the fight to win teriyaki bowl fans, Yaki's is a strong

competitor. They lead off with healthy ingredients such as skinless,

boneless chicken, lean beef, fresh vegetables and nonfat sauces. Add

masterful grilling and dish creativity, and you get tasty creations

that just might knock you out.

The main event is, of course, the chicken teriyaki bowl, steamed

rice and cabbage set with charbroiled chicken, all topped with

teriyaki sauce. What makes the basic bowl stand out is the chicken.

It's marinated, nicely grilled and delicious. You can also have the

bowl topped with steak if you like, and you can choose between

several sweet or spicy sauces. Once you know how to make great

grilled chicken, why stop at a bowl? Round two at Yaki's features

sandwiches. The Aloha Chicken Sandwich, which, as you no doubt

guessed, showcases a Hawaiian-style sweet sauce, comes on a French

roll with hand-torn lettuce, fresh tomatoes, sliced onion and is

finished off with Yaki's secret sandwich sauce, a Thousand

Island-based blend. They serve it to you wrapped in deli paper, since

it's pretty sloppy to eat.

A little pineapple might have been a nice addition, but I found it

quite good. The roll was soft, the tomatoes firm and the chicken

savory.

For round three, it's cheeseburgers. Offered in quarter-pound or

half-pound sizes, these burgers are impossibly thin but large in

diameter. At first, I was a bit put off, being a fan of more meaty

burgers. But once I set aside my prejudice and dove in, I found there

was plenty to like.

The burgers are lean and feature the ever-present Yaki sauce,

melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and raw onion on a large, fresh,

sesame seed bun. The burgers' additions include avocado, bacon and

even pastrami. If you think that's unusual, try the Yako Cheesebuger.

It's topped with onion, sauce and a quarter-pound of charbroiled

chicken! When was the last time you had chicken on your burger? I

mean, on purpose? Well, it was a new experience for me, and I have to

say I thought it was pretty good. All that melted cheese really helps

to marry the beef patty and chicken together.

"Creative" is an attribute I appreciate in a restaurant as long as

it's good, and this qualifies. So with Yaki's terrific chicken, fresh

ingredients, creative menu and reasonable prices, I find them a

worthy contender in any food fight. After all, you know they're

attracting fans when you hear customers say, "See you tomorrow!" as

they pick up their food.

* BILL SCOLLON is a Burbank resident and president of Scollon

Media Arts. You can reach him at ewscollon@hotmail.com.

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