By Avery Ballmann | Personal editor
What was once an old Sonic is now transformed into a Texas-style teriyaki restaurant. Drive-in YAKI is a colorful and delicious restaurant located at 1307 S. Valley Mills Drive.
My sister and I took our lunch break off campus and ventured to YAKI. If you’ve walked Valley Mills Drive, you might recognize the brightly colored walls and string lights above the picnic tables. We were curious to see how the Texas-inspired teriyaki would taste, since we are Hawaiian-style teriyaki lovers.
As we ascended, we were in awe of the detailed artwork that danced around the building. Bright, wavy clouds and lines hugged the corners of the walls and immediately gave us a good idea of this place. The Sonic booths are still there and customers can choose to park there or eat in their car.
As we walked to the window, the cashier was so kind to us and was patient when we couldn’t figure out what to order. I ended up getting a box of chicken which included rice, coleslaw, oak smoked chicken and YAKI soss. My sister ordered a box of pulled pork that had the same items as my box. We also ordered the spicy mayonnaise sides, which they make in house, and the sweet chilli soss.
We decided to eat on the picnic tables as it was a sunny day. Our food came out within five minutes, packed in cardboard take-out containers on a bright red tray. We were surprised by the speed of service and enjoyed the understated presentation of the food.
Trying the two cans alone without our added sauces was too salty for our liking. Once we added the hot but creamy spicy mayo, the salt was balanced quickly. My sister and I don’t usually like coleslaw, but this coleslaw was fresh and added a crunchy texture to this meal.
We then tried our cans with the sweet chili soss, the only sauce not made by YAKI. Alone, the sauce is very sweet, like a sweet and sour sauce you would find in a Chinese restaurant. When added to our boxes with the spicy mayonnaise, it was amazing.
The once salty meat turned into a perfect blend of sweet and spicy that we just couldn’t stop eating. I even went back to the counter to get another sweet chili sauce. Overall I would say YAKI’s sauces make the meal and I would recommend trying their others like Chilli Oil, Green Soss and Wing Soss if you like extra spicy flavors.
As college students, meal prices are always a big factor when you go out. My sister and I each ordered a can, a canned drink and two sauces. This meal cost us about $13 each. When we first paid I thought it was more expensive, but the quality and quantity of food makes up for the price. I realized that’s what I would spend if I went to a sit-down restaurant, and just because it looks like fast food, the effort and ingredients provided by YAKI were just as high end as any. any other restaurant. My sister and I got so full we barely made a dent in our boxes so we were able to take them home and make another meal.
Overall, my sister and I gave YAKI an 8 out of 10, the reason being that they have a smaller menu during the week and you have to buy extra sauces. Despite these things, I think YAKI has a wonderful atmosphere and is a great place to take your friends or family. The food is delicious and worth the price. If you can’t make it to their Valley Mills location, they also have a food truck located at 618 Columbus Ave.