Sak’s Teriyaki is a Zillion Times Better Than I Expected (and My New Favorite Westwood Lunch)
Westwood has no shortage of teriyaki. Whether it’s for the office workers on Wilshire, or the students of UCLA, if you want some cheap chicken covered in a sweet and goopy Japanese(ish) sauce, you are totally in luck in this part of town. San Sai and California Teriyaki Bowl are the most visible in the heart of Westwood Village, but for the old school anti-chain hole in the wall Midtown Lunch seekers there is only one option: Sak’s Teriyaki! I first heard of this place back in April, when Lunch’er Steve recommended it as not great, but “a great Midtown Lunch”.
I finally made it to Sak’s yesterday, and I don’t know if it was the low expectations or what- but great is precisely the word I would choose to describe it!
I can’t decide what excites me more about Sak’s. The prices, the menu, or the place itself. Situated in this spanish style courtyard, the ordering window is at the end of an outdoor hallway that runs down the middle of the “restaurant” (if you can even call it that). There is indoor seating, as well as a downstairs and upstairs patio if you prefer to be outside. A true hidden gem.
The menu offers a ton of options, including leg or breast meat chicken teriyaki, spicy chicken, Korean style beef short ribs, udon, and fried seafood (oysters, fish, shrimp, and scallops). They also have “sticks”, which are pathetically unfried (something about “sticks” make me think it should be fried, like tempura!) Japanese versions of kebabs. In other words, order the “sticks” and you’re getting grilled chicken, veggies, or shrimp. A real healthy L.A. lunch! Thanks but not thanks. Give me the unhealthy stuff.
There are a number of different combos available, so you can pretty much ensure getting a little something of everything you want to try. And every order comes with fried rice, salad, and gyoza. Obviously we had to try the chicken teriyaki (leg meat > breast meat) which you can get alone ($5.35) or in a combo with beef ($7.20), fried oysters, fish or shrimp ($6.40). There’s something wrong when beef is more expensive than seafood- but how could I not order the oysters?! It’s kind of what we do here at ML. Order the thing that would gross out your co-workers the most.
The chicken was char-grilled, giving it that smokey almost burnt flavor that you don’t get from most fast food teriyaki spots. They don’t cover it in sauce, instead giving you sauces on your table to apply yourself.
Salad dressing, sriracha and teriyaki. Do it up… they improve everything on the plate. The oysters even scared me a bit, but they ended up being fine. They were more breading than anything, and tasted like they came frozen… but not terrible. Still, next time I’ll probably go with the shrimp or fish instead.
The real winner, though, was the spicy chicken- which is what Steve originally recommended back in April. We got that one in a combination with the beef ($7.20), and I was pretty excited to discover that the spicy chicken is actually battered and fried, like kare-age. It came lightly coated in this slightly spicy, slightly sweet clear sauce and it was awesome (for fast food Asian). If you like it real spicy, you’ll definitely be disappointed in the heat level- but it’s nothing that a little squeeze of sriracha can’t fix. In fact, the sriracha made everything taste better, including the beef- which was very thinly pounded and grilled. It was pretty dried out, although surprisingly not chewy… and it didn’t have any of the great char that the chicken had. Good, but I’d probably just get the chicken teriyaki next time. The salad and gyoza served their purpose, and even though the texture of the fried rice wasn’t the best ever, it had this strange allure that elevated it above most mall food court style fried rices I’ve tried. All in all, and amazing lunch for $7.20.
At one point or another everybody has had cheap chicken teriyaki (most likely in a mall food court) and even though I was kind of excited to try Sak’s, I felt like I knew what I was getting into. Instead I discovered my new favorite Westwood lunch. I still need to try the Mixed Seafood Plate ($7.20) and once it gets a little cooler, the Udon Combo ($6.40) but it will be hard not to order that spicy chicken. Hopefully I haven’t built it up to much… so those of you who haven’t tried it can be delightfully surprised as well.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I like cheap Asian food, but prefer not to eat at chains
- I love hidden hole in the walls!
- It’s perfect that they give you the sauces on the side, so you can choose the amount that’s right for you
- They have a ton of combos, so you can customize your lunch to the stuff you like
- It’s a ton of food for the price
- Uh… this is not Japanese food
- The fried seafood and the gyoza tastes like it came frozen in plastic bags
- I don’t like chicken when it’s too charred
- The spicy chicken is not spicy enough!
- The teriyaki sauce is nothing special
- Settle down. It’s fine, but not *that* good
Sak’s Teriyaki, 1121 Glendon Ave. (nr. Lindbrook), 310-208-2002