Bari Bari Japanese Steak House
19677 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
When you are 5 or 6 years old the world seems so small. I lived in Anaheim Hills for the first three years of my life, but then we moved to Yorba Linda in 1975. My parents still live in that house, and we travel there regularly for birthdays, holidays, and for other family events. Coming back here always brings back memories.
Back when kids actually got out of the house, rode bikes, played in parks, and set up lemonade stands, I was roaming within a mile of my house, and exploring the one shopping center that we had near us. This shopping center used to house Von's Supermarket, Thrifty's, and a TG&Y back then. There were also smaller stores between the anchor stores. Now the Thrifty's has turned into a Rite Aid, Cons has been transformed into a Trader Joe's, and the TG&Y has been chopped up into smaller shops.
Back to present day, we were here at this shopping center of my youth, which is at the corner of Fairmont and Yorba Linda Boulevard for my sister's birthday. She had recently eaten at Bari Bari for her anniversary, and could not wait for us to try it as well. So Katie and I, my parents, and my sister's three girls and husband made reservations to eat in our old stomping grounds.
I'm not sure how long Bari Bari has been here, but the oldest review on Yelp is from 2007, and people talk about coming here way before that. They used to serve lunch, but now they are only open for dinner. The wear and tear on this teppanyaki restaurant is evident, but from what we observed, the restaurant is clean, but since it's a smaller restaurant, the smoke from the tables does linger a bit. I've also heard that during peak times it is hard to get a seat at one of their four teppanyaki grill tables. A lot of the Yelpers also report feeling rushed, but we did not experience any of that. Let's see what we did experience though.
Before our teppanyaki chef made his appearance, our waitress brought out our Salads and Soup. Both are included in the price of the entrees at Bari Bari. The salad is your basic variety garden salad, with iceberg lettuce, a few strands of red cabbage, and a ginger dressing. The dressing woke up this rather drab salad just enough to entice me to finish it. The soup was a miso broth concoction with a few sliced mushrooms included. This soup was unremarkable, and really was more watery than a soup should be, so I ended up just drinking it.
While we were eating our food, the teppanyaki chef arrived, and began doing all of the tricks of the trade that you expect from a teppanyaki restaurant. The onion volcano, flipping egg in all of our mouths, flipping shrimp into his shirt pocket, and cracking an egg in midair with his spatula. Our chef was pretty nice and friendly, and after he finished all of his tricks, he turned all business as he was making our meals. Since Katie had alerted him to her shrimp allergy, he cooked all of the seafood last, which made my dad wait for his scallops and shrimp.
Since everything is cooked in stages, you find yourself eating bits and pieces off of your plate here. The most popular items appear to be the combination dinners, and they have a wide variety of options for you to choose from. I went with the Filet Mignon and Shrimp ($27.25). The chef had asked how I wanted my steak, and it actually came out to my desired medium rare, which is kind of an oddity for this kind of place. Usually it comes to me medium to well done, and is tough. This was not the case at Bari Bari. The steak was the best thing I ate all night here. It was tender, and cooked perfectly. The shrimp were okay, but nothing to crow about. Dinners also come with grilled veggies and grilled fried rice, which was pretty average. Katie selected the Chicken Dinner ($17.25) for her entree, and thought it was okay, but nothing distinguished it from any other teppanyaki place she has visited.
I should probably disclose to all of you that this is one of my least favorite kinds of meals that is out there. I have never really been awestruck by anything that I've had at a teppanyaki restaurant before, and that held true on this night as well. Yes, the steak was cooked better than at most teppanyaki restaurants, but the rest of the meal fell to impress. You're basically overpaying by a good amount for watching them cook your food in front of you. At least here at Bari Bari you are not paying Benihana prices, which if their website menu prices are correct, are about $5 higher on most items. On the plus side, the service we had on this night was pretty good, with our waitress waiting in the wings, refilling our drinks, and taking away our plates when we were done. She even brought my sister a beer with a candle rubber banded around it for her birthday. The rest of my family really enjoyed their meals at Bari Bari, and liked watching the chef, and that's all that's really important. It's really awesome that my nieces can make childhood memories in the same area me and my sister made ours.
Out of five motorbikes, (because there was a Japanese comic book series, "Baribari Legend", which had an eight year run about motorbike racing), five being best to zero being worst, Bari Bari Japanese Steak House gets 2.5 motorbikes.
Bari Bari Japanese Steak House does not have a website, but you can find information about them on their Yelp page here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/bari-bari-japanese-steak-house-yorba-linda