MCow Yakitori & Bar - Irvine, CA
It was Friday and I felt as if the time could not pass by any slower so I spent the last hour of work deciding where to eat for dinner. My brother wanted to try this spot by our house, but reservations were full until 8:30 and he wanted to dine at an appropriate dinner time. So that was out of the window. Somehow I stumbled upon MCow Yakitori & Bar while searching for alternatives. The spot opened about a few months ago and is still in it's soft opening phase (I think! Or it seems that way), so I expected a lot of kinks and bumps along the way. There is some confusion from the locals because there are two MCow locations right next to each other - one is the restaurant and the other is the yakitori bar.
Anyhow, MCow serves Taiwanese style yakitori with a focus on quality meat seasoned with four different options to choose from: salt, yakitori, spicy yakitori and house special (garlic and cilantro pesto). With great quality comes great price, haha! The list is relatively minimal, but because it's still very new, there's a possibility for an expansive menu once they get into the groove of things.
Here are the items we had along with price so you can see how portion may or may not match up with expectations. This is the platter they set on each table with spicy mustard and yuzu kosho. As each items are ready, they set the yakitori here.
Started with complimentary salad, but only the first bowl is free. If you want refills, it's an extra $5 but is unlimited after the payment. WORTH IT because wait time is ridiculously long in between servings.
Prime Ribeye ($3.50) seasoned with salt (right) and house special (left). It was really tender and the house special sauce complemented the juiciness and flavor of the beef.
Beef tongue ($3.75) seasoned with spicy yakitori (bottom), house special (top) and salt (right). Because the pieces were thin slices instead of thick cut, they had used two skewers. The meat was actually quite tough/chewy and most likely overcooked. If the quality is great, it should be medium at most, but we had to wrestle them off the skewers. What a workout.
Pork Toro ($3.00) seasoned with spicy yakitori (bottom) and salt (top). The cut is between the neck and shoulder. It was moist and fatty like the belly with a texture like pork cheek. Awesome!
Pork belly ($2.50) yakitori was nothing special. Just the typical thing you would get anywhere else.
Chicken wings ($2.15). You only get ONE wing and they were TINY, but the skin was crisp and flavorful. Definitely did not satisfy my love for wings.
Squid Balls ($1.95) and Unagi ($4.75). You really only get 1.5 squid balls because they are cut in half. What a rip.
Zucchini ($1.75) listed on the menu, but the server called it Italian squash.
Cheese stuffed fishcake ($2.15) - yakitori style & house special.
Hokkaido Scallops ($3.50) seasoned with house special sauce. The scallop were barely grilled and served raw. Not sure if that's the standard, but it tasted good.
Special Gizzard Skin ($2.25). They had ran out of gizzard so we got the pricier option.
Australia lamb chop ($4.25). This is only served as a house special because lamb is typically known for having a game-y flavor, but the garlic/cilantro paired really well. You could barely tell it was lamb.
Taiwanese Tempura ($1.95), which is just a fried fishcake but they made it sound so exotic.
For Round 2, we ordered a couple favorites, like pork toro, prime ribeye and beef tongue. We also got something from the kitchen, Crispy Cheese Dumpling. These came out surprisingly fast and it was nice to have something to eat as we waited for our mains. The cheese dumplings have a slice of jalapeno inside (packs some slight heat) and served with mayo.
What's a Friday out with some friends without a couple of beers?! So we pretty much indulged a bit with the promotion they have running right now. Buy 2 beers get 1 free if you LIKE their Facebook fan page. The promotion applies per person, not per table. EVEN better! Tried Asahi Black and Echigo Red Ale for the first time. I think I'll have to buy a 6-pack of these now.
Aside from dropping a lot more $$ than anticipated, MCow is not a place I would find myself dining at often. Simply because their beverage menu is as long as their food menu. It just seems like a bar serving high-quality snacks. The restrooms even have a barf sink that look like giant urinals! I can't take this place seriously hahaha.
MCow Yakitori & Bar - Buhn
14120 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604