Gyutan Tsukasa

I’ve been going to the Costa Mesa Mitsuwa since I was a very small child (well, more like taken there most of those times). I can recall at least two renovations and various changes in the restaurant lineup―I do quite miss the big Zen rock gardens from my childhood―but it’s always remained a fun place to eat and shop. Gyutan Tsukasa is the most recent addition to the food court, taking over a spot that seems to change a bit more often than the others, but I have high hopes for it.

Gyutan is Japanese for beef tongue (it literally translates to “cow tongue”), and Tsukasa means something along the lines of “chief” or “government official.” The rest of the name on their sign roughly means “grilled specialty store.”

So a place that specializes in grilled beef tongue. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

The menu at the Costa Mesa location is more limited than the regular menu at their locations in Japan, but there were several items labeled coming soon, and I imagine the menu will further expand over time.

I needed something fast and portable so I opted for the lunchbox. I loved it! Just tongue, mixed grain rice, and two types of pickles. They do have pre-made ones if you’re really in a hurry, but I had time to wait for a hot one. The preparation is simple, but its origins are anything but, the tongue coming all the way from Australia and grilled over Japanese charcoal. The grilling method obviously yields a chewier result than, say, lengua, and the char flavor is a great complement to the rich and tangy tongue. The portions of each component were all well balanced―I didn’t find myself with lots of rice left over after everything else was gone―and I liked that there were both spicy and just pickle-y pickles.

I like a nicely assembled lunchbox.

Also, here’s the Yelp page for this location, as the official site doesn’t seem to have anything about this new US location.