I bet if you were to ask your friend what is meat, they would respond back “its meat” (my friend did).
I would not be surprised because a cow is referred to as “beef,” pig is “pork,” and we only stuck with calling fish, “fish” and chicken as “chicken” because the latter two just do not have the amazing personalities of the aforementioned.
That disconnection and conditioning about our food sources has people disconnected from what meat really is and even worse, demanding lean “ass meat” (ground round to round steak). Oh, and as a FYI to my panda looking friend, meat is primarily muscle.
While tender and tastier cuts are utilized in tacos or typically on a grill in a Japanese restaurant, most Americans have not tried or eaten beef tongue which is sad, very, very, very sad.
In Japanese, beef tongue is called gyutan which means “gyu“=cow and “tan“=tongue. Yea, it does not translate to “tender beef that may or may not be a cows tongue if you are eating it.”
Before I tell you where you can eat gyutan, you just might want to know the difference between a cow, ox, steer, heifer, and a bull is.
- Heifer: a female who is not a babies mama.
- Cow: you’re a cow after you popped out a baby (calf).
- Steer: a male that has been neutered, so all there is left is to be a burger or a steak.
- Bull: a grown ass male swiping right looking to hook-up.
- Ox: a working bovine because somebody’s got to work.
Yakiniku (grilled meat) came from Korea, so I love the way that Koreans prepare grilled tongue which is with a dipping sauce made primarily of sesame oil and salt, it is so good. Tip: don’t ever over cook it because it’ll become rubbery and chewy, and I prefer medium rare (when grilling thin slices, just grill it on one side, and quickly on the other).
Bite your tongue
If you like your meat tender, this has got to be one of the most tender cuts of meat you can possibly eat, and if you like the sound of that, here are my favorite eight places you need to go to get some tongue action in Los Angeles (aside from Far Bar).
1. Gyutan Tsukasa U.S.A
665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
This is the only specialized gyutan restaurant on this list which is why it is number one on it. It is also the best place to go try it without any major committment because it is located inside the extremely popular Mitsuwa Marketplace food court.
2. Izakaya Hachi
1880 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Mon-Thurs: 6-11pm, Fri: 6-11:30pm, Sat: 5-10:30pm, Sun: 5-10pm
There are two locations, but I highly recommend the Torrance location over Costa Mesa. The parent restaurant group, the people who also own Manpuku also own Hachi. When they prepare it, they grill up thick cubes of tender gyutan.
3. Yazawa Japanese BBQ
9669 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Located in Beverly Hills, Yazawa offers several “omakase” (chefs choice) set menus starting from $100 to $160. Majority of the sets I think contain gyutan, but you can also order U.S. premium prime American wagyu tongue a la carte for $15.
8486 W 3rd St, West Hollywood, CA 90048 They have several locations throughout Los Angeles, but this is their newest location.
Sun-Thurs: 5:30-10:30pm, Fri-Sat: 5:30-11pm
When it comes to the variety of preparation, Manpuku reigns supreme because they offer a number of grades of gyutan (from Black Angus to wagyu), along with having it prepared in either as a tan shio (salted tongue) or negi shio (green onion topping).
1730 Sepulveda Blvd #14, Torrance, CA 90501
Tues-Sun: 5-10pm, Mon: Closed
Another very casual spot that has been around for a long time, and they have been around for a long time for good reason. One major factor is that they simply serve their beef tongue from a price range as little as $9.95 to $14.50.
1935 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita, CA 90717
Mon-Sat: 11:30am-2pm, 4-11pm, Sun: 11:30-2pm, 4-10pm, Wed: Closed
Another very basic interior, but don’t let the understated interior throw you off because next to Yazawa, this is one of the few sure-proof places where you can get several slices of salted American wagyu which are cut perfectly thin (approximately 8 slices) for $15.99.
424 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wed-Sat, Mon: 5:30-9pm, Sun & Tues: Closed
The way a lot of places work in L.A. is, if the person suggesting the place has been there, it by default becomes “the best place ever.” Kinjiro, Sushi Gen, etc. all fall under this category which is maybe why they charge a hefty $24 for their gyutan cuz L.A., a we were cool before cool was even cool tax.
Gyu-kaku has the most locations in and around L.A. (also in the world), but since this is grilling for the masses, they don’t necessarily specialize in gyutan. Just do not come here expecting it to epitomize the best of the best.
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t fall under the definition of a tool, so you are already down to try cow tongue braised and topped with mushrooms in a Madeira sauce like the French do, and you most likely have already had it in the form of a lengua taco. If that is you, you are a like a prized bull or heifer in my eyes.
You know what rhymes with fantastical? Fan….testicles, yea balls, nuts, and they are eaten in Colorado which are marketed as Rocky Mountain oysters. Unlike RMO’s, gyutan does not have to be marketed as an oyster or something it is not, gyutan is cool with being itself because it is delicious (oishii) and your tongues taste buds will thank you.