On the last evening of my dad’s visit, he treated S and I to Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ. Tsuruhashi has been on my bookmarks list for a while, and since Japanese BBQ is hard to find where my dad lives, he was happy to try it out.
The restaurant is located in the Original Pancake House plaza on Convoy (same plaza as Sakura). The inside was actually smaller than I expected – the picture above captures the entire width of the restaurant space.
I read online that Tsuruhashi is a region in Osaka, known for having a large number of Korean-Japanese citizens and for its yakiniku, or Korean-style barbecue restaurants. Indeed, we were reminded of Korean barbecue when we were seated at the table with a round griddle in the middle (I’ll be honest, I thought of Manna). However, instead of All-You-Can-Eat, here you order each plate of meat individually.
We noticed on the menu that there was a “Family Set” special that includes rib-eye, outside skirt steak, boneless short rib, and chicken for $30, only available Monday through Thursday. Luckily we were there on a weeknight!
Right away, we could tell that the meat is top-quality (well, duh… the beef is USDA Prime). The chicken was marinated in a light soy-garlic sauce. Everything was very tender and flavorful – I particularly enjoyed the rib-eye and short rib.
We also chose a couple of other items:
What can I say? This is just superb meat. We thoroughly enjoyed the Kobe short rib – it was quite rich and just melted in my mouth.
The pork belly was also really delicious. The slices were quite thin, so it only took a few minutes on the grill before they were ready with a browned and crispy exterior. The pork belly is served with a miso sauce and lettuce for wrapping, but S preferred to just eat the meat alone. It also came with a sesame oil dipping sauce, which was amazing.
Speaking of dipping sauces, I really enjoyed their classic Japanese soy sauce – it was mixed with mirin and I believe some sesame oil – very light and refreshing, a perfect accompaniment to the grilled meats.
At the last minute, my dad ordered another plate of Kobe beef for us since we all enjoyed it so much, and so that I’d have more to share with my readers here. This was the steak cut short rib, and I liked this even more than the short rib slices because it was a thicker cut and had a more “meaty” taste. Again, melt-in-your-mouth tender. Thanks so much, Dad!
We also ordered a couple of non-grill items to share…
Salad, our attempt to be healthy at this meat-dominated meal. I really loved the soy-ginger dressing.
BibinMen is also a Korean-Japanese specialty. Cold soba noodles are tossed with the traditional bibimbap sauce (kochijan, a chili miso paste, and sesame oil), and garnished with pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and a hard-boiled egg. I’ve never tried this dish before and really liked it – definitely a fusion between traditional Korean flavors and Japanese ingredients.
Overall, we had a really satisfying and wonderful meal. The service was good and attentive, and the waitress came by and gave us grilling tips from time to time (reminding us how long to cook each type of meat, etc.). The food was of course excellent! S and I are really grateful that my dad took us out to such a nice meal! I look forward to returning for another special occasion.
Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ
3904 Convoy St, San Diego, CA
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-12am; Sat-Sun 4pm-12am