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This Wagyu Melted Like Cotton Candy... @ Tsuruhashi - Fountain Valley

I've heard great things about Tsuruhashi, but never tried. After recently traveling to Japan a few months ago and tasting one of the best wagyu (Japanese beef) ever (Matusaka to be specific, one of the top 3 famous ones including Kobe and Omi), I've been craving that extra tender, soft, melt-in-your-mouth beef. But where can I get that in Orange County? 

There are actually several Japanese BBQ restaurants in the area that serve A5 Miyazaki beef, which is claimed to be the best (and area of origin) Japanese wagyu. But they do cost an arm and a leg. 

I wanted to try Japanese BBQ nevertheless, and well, Danny offered to partially pay for my birthday dinner, so why not choose one of the most expensive places? LOL! 

Kevin, Danny, and I decided to try Tsuruhashi. 

I've only tried Anjin a loooooooooong time ago, before even meeting Kevin. Anjin is another well-known Japanese BBQ spot located in Costa Mesa. The reason why I mention Anjin specifically, is because the general public seems to always compare Anjin vs. Tsuruhashi. It's always a battle between those two, and although at the time I tried Anjin, I couldn't try much because of my peasant wages, it was still damn good. But soooooooo expensive (because of my peasant wages LOL). Anyway, I wanted to see what the hype is about for Tsuruhashi

The general consensus when I ask my friends is that:
Tsuruhashi is more Japanese vibe while
Anjin is more Americanized Japanese vibe. My Japanese friends tend to prefer Tsuruhashi over Anjin as well. But both are quality. 

Check out the menu below. (and start saving your money now after seeing the prices!)

To be honest, I don't remember what any of these meats are by photo. I remember what we ordered, but totally forgot what the meats in the photos are. SO SORRY! I actually never meant to take photos of my experience here, but somehow we decided to splurge and order the $60 A5 Miyazaki beef. And then I decided... pics or it didn't happen. LOL

The best beef tongue I've had in my life. It was so thick and flavorful and oooomph. It ain't a bad price either. It was around like $11 or so??

This plate of meat is sooooo marbled looking. While I don't remember what it was exactly, it was probably the "gold" tier meat.

Damn, this was worth the money. I was a bit skeptical, because it was so expensive. BUT WOW! It was melt-in-yo-mouth marbled fatty goodness and just disintegrated on my tongue like cotton candy. Definitely worth the money for that experience. 

What we ordered:

  • fresh beef tongue (they sold out of the premium fresh tongue at the time) | $10.75
    • thick, flavorful, juicy, has that tongue firmness to it that is so good
    • if this was that good, I bet the "premium fresh" must be wildly good
  • kobe boneless short rib kalbi (gold) | $17.50
    • the "gold" indicates more marbled meat (more fatty to meat ratio). 
    • even if this isn't actual Japanese wagyu (not actually from Japan but is from Snake River Farms, known to be the highest quality American "wagyu"), it was so damn good, good thickness to it, and juicy. The fat just melts!
  • kobe boneless short rib kalbi (black) | $15.50
    • Kevin prefers the "black" which has a less fat to meat ratio. (he doesn't like fatty parts as much)
    • Although this has less marbling, it was still so tender and juicy. 
  • A5 Miyazaki Beef (5oz) | $60
    • now this takes the cake! so damn worth. Wow. Just splurge y'all. Do it
    • melted like cotton candy. 
    • the marbling of the fat is amazing

Okay, I know we ordered more than that, but I completely forgot. Had too much fun that day and didn't take notes LOL. 

Anjin vs. Tsuruhashi
Only Kevin and Danny have been to Anjin more recently than I have. So I can trust their opinions more for the comparison. The general consensus is that Anjin's meat slices are thinner, which leaves a less satisfying taste. Because the beef is sliced thinner, you can't really enjoy the tenderness of the meat once you slice it with your teeth as you bite down. It's just less volume. However, the Tsuruhashi beef cuts are thicker. So you can actually enjoy the juiciness of the meat better, leaving a more satisfying taste and experience. 

Anjin is also more expensive and the wait is horrendous. The wait is usually 2 hours long and you cannot reserve! You can call in to reserve for Tsuruhashi and then show up later. 

I have heard that the beef tartar is apparently better at Anjin? (Yukhoe / Yukke). I wouldn't know because I haven't tried it at either, but that's what the Yelpers say! However,  I'm all about the bbq grill meat!

Overall, I definitely recommend this place for the meat. Even the U.S. Kobe Style meat (meat derived from a specific area in the United States that is specifically from Snake River Farms) was hella good. 

Tsuruhashi Address
18798 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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