Editors Note from Lady Ducayne: eatSCV would like to welcome our newest contributor, one of my dearest friends William Shahin. His skill with the quill in undeniable. Today, he brings us his review of Waba Grill, now open in Canyon Country.
Waba Mania is here!
Okay, Waba Mania isn’t exactly a thing. And there’s been a Waba Grill occupying Castaic for some time now. Santa Clarita’s Eastside, though, now has an extra option when searching for quick-service teriyaki.
Waba opened its doors in Canyon Country last month amid some fanfare from those who’ve eaten at their other locations. As a restaurant in the quick-service mold they pride themselves as a healthier alternative to other fast food fare. Think the Subway of the teriyaki world. They boast that nothing is fried and, because they charbroil their meat, there are no oils used in their cooking process.
Canyon Country has other alternatives in the form of Flame Broiler and Yoshinoya. While Flame Broiler’s approach is similar in that they do not use oils, and they trim the skin off their chicken, Yoshinoya isn’t exactly teriyaki; and we don’t know for sure that it’s actually meat that they serve. The debate shall continue another time!
After walking away feeling dissatisfied at another eatery across town, I knew that the only sure and cheap thing that could satisfy my stomach was something I usually eat when I’m at work. Waba Grill came to mind, and off I went.
Aesthetically speaking, Waba Grill looks sharp. It’s clean, outside and in; and it’s lit extremely well inside — not too bright and not dim. It also has more of a modern dining establishment feel to it than other restaurants of its kind. Those were my first thoughts while walking in. If need be, the place is perfect for large groups. Walking up to the counter, I realized why they could actually *use* all that space. Service was slow. Everything is transparent, however. You could see that everyone had their roles; some had more than one. There were people with gloves chopping up the meats in close view. The cashiers who were taking orders also tended to the rice. I don’t know who was slicing avocados, but I’m sure “avocado person” is a role there, as well.
I have the patience of an iceberg. I don’t mind sitting and waiting until my food arrives. So, while they were sorting out orders from other orders in the back, I was alright knowing they didn’t realize they hadn’t taken my order yet. Seven minutes after ordering my “Waba bowl” (half chicken/half steak bowl), my number was called. They had skipped over two people who ordered before me, with orders as simple as mine.
I realize a beard is a thing, but I didn’t realize my beard could harness such powers. I digress.
So the service was slow, and I had ordered my food to go. Coming from another place I had just eaten at, I can’t say I had the hungriest of appetites — and the thought of “why am I eating so damn much tonight?” did cross my head; but as soon as I opened the lid, the familiar scent of meat and teriyaki caressed my nostrils. If I wasn’t hungry then, I was hungry now.
I took quick bites of the teriyaki steak and it did not disappoint. The three Waba Grills I’ve been too have always been consistent. The Waba brand is strong! The chicken here, though, was better than I remember. It was tender and grilled in strips, as opposed to chunks of chicken you get at places like Flame Broiler. For being skinless, and without oil, it made me wonder why I would ever eat chicken any other way.
I got too carried away with the meat, because the portions were generous and I found no need to dig into the rice. When I did, however, I realized the brown rice was slightly undercooked. I’m not sure if al dente is ever referred to with rice, but this was a little bit chewy and lacked the fluffiness I demand from my rice. It seems to me the demand rushed their production, and the rice suffered as a result.
For a $7.49 teriyaki bowl, I can’t really complain all that much. Fixing one’s “rice situation” is a whole lot easier than finding a new way to grill meat quickly or keeping their restaurant clean. My money’s on Waba Grill finding their bearings sooner than later. And sooner or later that’s where I’ll be again.
The new Waba Grill is located on 19120 Soledad Canyon Rd. Santa Clarita, CA 91387.
You can also call ahead at 661.367.7297.