Work has been taking over my nights again and being tired of one too many meals under the strange fluorescent lighting of Mitsuwa's food court, I had decided to pamper myself to some great comfort food at the warm and inviting environment of Okan again early this week.
I also read somewhere on either Lighthouse S.D. or YuYu that Okan had started serving their winter menu since October so I was looking forward to it as well.
In addition to the usual Ozara dishes that were spread out around the counter, this night I was also greeted by an attractive Oden cooker.
While I made mental notes of these I decided on the first two dishes rather effortlessly.
The Hamo no Tempura on the specials board ($6.00) and the Buta no Kakuni ($8.50). I had also ordered a bowl of rice ($1.50) and the Miso Soup of the Day (prices vary).
While I don't know a whole lot about Hamo (Pike Eel) I know that its preparation is a bit involved due to the amount of tiny bones. A great article on it on KyotoFoodie here, and a Youtube clip of a chef splicing the bones (honegiri) here.
The Hamo Tempura was amazingly light and fluffy. They were like miniature deep fried edible goose down pillows.
The colored salt you see to the right was explained as "Moshio" or Seaweed Salt. A first for me. I remember it having a milder and slightly sweeter flavor than a usual salt (to the left) and I had most of my Hamo with it. I went through the six bite sized pieces rather quickly but I did try a few with the Tentsuyu which was also very nice.
As I mentioned on my first post on Okan, I absolutely love the concept of "Miso Soup of the Day.." This night was Asari ($3.50).
A lighter version than some that I have had in the past but this actually proved to be a better match with my next Buta no Kakuni (a sweet soy sauce flavored braised pork belly).
Oh boy, this is one of those dishes that makes me realize I will never be able to become a vegetarian. My mouth is watering as I post these pics..
And while it wasn't like Okan's Kakuni had no room to improve (the meat layer was a bit on the tough side) the excellent rich "Kotteri" flavor made up for almost any shortcomings.
I managed to photograph a few pages of the menu but apologies to some since I now realize it was the Japanese version.
I may have forgotten to mention that I was very very hungry. So my last order was the Oden ($6.50).
Skewered Tendons, Boiled Egg, Daikon, Kamaboko, Konnyaku and Fried Tofu. My visit was again at 5:30PM right at opening so I did feel like it could've used a bit longer simmer. But anything after that Kakuni may have felt a little under flavored to be fair. Mission was accomplished though and I left very very full.
But maybe next time I will leave room for dessert. Pudding with Japanese Black Honey, Gateau Chocolate and Green Tea Tiramisu all sound so very good.
Wa Dining Okan, 3860 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111