Restaurant Review: Yoko

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Restaurant Review: Yoko

Kate Zhang, Asst. Feature Editor

Located in Buena Park, Yoko brings authentic Japanese flavor to the area, specializing in donkatsu, or fried pork cutlets. After recommendations by several  friends and a multitude of five star reviews on Yelp, I finally decided that it was time to try out Yoko with my family.

We arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 in the evening, and I was surprised to see a long line of people waiting outside. Since Yoko is a relatively small joint and does not have many tables, we had to wait around 40 minutes before we were finally seated.

As I walked in, I immediately noticed the restaurant’s beautiful wooden design. The walls were painted a simple beige, which matched the dark brown color of the wood. There were also a few vintage paintings and portraits that gave the small restaurant a very comfortable and cozy atmosphere.

However, my favorite part about the interior design was the brightly colored panels they had in the center of the wall. The vivid green, orange and yellow colors brought life to the restaurant’s design and stood out against the paler beige walls.

Right after we sat down, I noticed Yoko’s menu did not have many options, which made it easier for me to decide on the items I wanted to order. I ended up choosing their most famous $13.85 donkatsu combo, fried pork cutlet with a crunch roll the side, the $12.95 cheesekatsu fried pork cutlet filled with melted cheese  and also the $11.95 shrimpkatsu, which included fried jumbo shrimps.

Having experienced a long wait to be seated, I sat back and prepared to wait for a while more, but the waiter quickly arrived a few minutes later and brought us each a bowl of sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle. He explained that we had to grind the sesame seeds into a powder, and then he would pour the katsu sauce—  a sweet and tangy japanese sauce to dip the cutlets in— into our bowls. The sesame seeds enhanced the flavor of the sauce, and the chore of grinding them also kept us busy throughout our wait.

It took around 10-15 minutes for all of our dishes to arrive, and I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our meals. Although the donkatsu combo was only $13.85, it came with a huge portion of katsu, an equally large portion of coleslaw, miso soup, two side dishes and four pieces of sushi. The other katsus also came with coleslaw, two side dishes, miso soup and a bowl of rice for only $11.95.

I had very high expectations for the meal, and was excited to try the first dish, the cheesekatsu. This katsu consisted of a thin layer of pork loaded with mozzarella cheese on top. The crunch of the katsu on my first bite was extremely satisfying, and the rich mozzarella cheese and tender, juicy pork added texture to the dish.

I moved onto the donkatsu combo, which ended up being my favorite order. The pork in the katsu was juicy and tender, and dipping the meat into the katsu sauce also added a nice tangy flavor to the dish. The taste was balanced out with the fresh and crispy cabbage coleslaw on the side, which came with a savory and sweet dressing.

Despite my positive experience with the pork, my order of seafood left me disappointed. The jumbo shrimp were very chewy and hard to swallow. The taste was also a bit bland, and the tartar sauce was too thick and chunky.

Overall the service was great since our food arrived quickly and the waiters were patient and kind. However, the low prices and exceptional quality of food are the main reasons drawing me back to this restaurant: while the portions are huge, everything on the menu is under $15. Yoko’s Japanese cuisine definitely lived up to my expectations; next time, I’ll be the one recommending this restaurant to others and bringing my friends here.