Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Few More Meals @ Wa Dining Okan

Had another dinner and lunch at Okan last week and wanted to share. Also I knew I had a few photos from older lunch visits but I didn't realize I had this many (at least four from last year). So this may be a bit long but hope you enjoy.. (My first Okan dinner visit posts here and here, and early lunch posts here and here.)

Seasonal vegetable tempura from Chino Farms.

With some beeru of course.. Sapporo is on draft (was too tempted and already had a large sip before taking the photo, haha).

The tempura were really great with a light crisp batter. Was accompanied with green tea Macha Salt and dipping tsuyu with grated radish.

Above a baby radish? I think these below were baby artichokes with a pleasant floral flavor. Some of the layers were a bit fibrous but still very nice. Others included were Sora Mame (fava bean) pods fried up whole.

Asparagus wrapped in pork and grilled. I think the crispy liver was beef.. The mizuna greens were great with. My second beer was great with too.. ;)

When I heard they had an old school Shina Soba, I guess I kinda had to try it... As far as I can tell it was sort of their Kamo Nanban (duck soba with grilled long onions) adapted into a ramen with the addition of Menma - pickled bamboo shoots, flavored egg, and Nori to name a few.

Oh man, I really really really enjoyed this. The soup was light but fantastically Wa-Fu with a prominent dried-fish stock dashi flavor. At $12.50 I wouldn't be able to have this everyday but if I could... :)

The slices of grilled duck was admittedly a bit tough but had good flavor and the egg though hard boiled had a great strong marinade that successfully penetrated through the white's outer surface. This aji-tama reminded me of the style of Santouka's but I preferred this version much better where the flavor erred on the savory soy sauce side than sweet. Noodles were off the shelf standard but in totality it was a really great bowl.

My beer buddy had an Ume (plum) Musubi. He said it was great and the way I watched him devour it he wasn't kidding!

And of course the chicken Karaage is always good. Having some cold beer to cap the week was our main objective so we didn't really explore Okan's new specials menu that deep. We'll be back to try more with the Missus half of G.R.A. next time. :)

Had lunch here earlier in the week as well. I mentioned before that Okan's lunch was originally planned to be limited to three months ending last December but I'm really glad they decided to continue. Cause at Okan lunch is short but ever changing sweet.

Sort of repeating my last lunch post but you start off with the "Basic Lunch Set" ($6.50) as a given, and one or more sides can be added to it for extra. The Basic Set comes with brown hijiki rice (can be substituted for white), a veggie rich miso soup, some pickles and three tasters that change daily. The tasters today were simmered crunchy Renkon (lotus root), green beans with a sweeter miso, and a simmered Gobo burdock mix.

This simple and healthy fare sometimes can make me feel like I'm playing a commoner sporting a chonmage haircut in a Japanese Jidaigeki show, haha. Anyway, one can end the meal here but there are three weekly changing sides that you can add (one or more) to the set that usually range from $3 to $4. The sweet sour chicken or curry flavored pork potato croquette was tempting but I settled for a more classic sweet soy sauce braised mackerel (+$4).

So good. The Shishito pepper and Ume sour plum that it came with was such a nice touch to cut the fattier Saba belly along with the sweeter sauce.

My previous lunch before was back in December last year..

Nerdy of me to explain but I remember it being a busy day and I was surrounded by people in very close proximity, so felt too self conscious to lift my camera up to take a shot of the whole tray... But the three tasters of the day was taken discreetly and looked like so..

Simmered Kabocha pumpkin, Asian potato salad and squid simmered with I think taro root.

The three large pieces of vegetable Kakiage were a total bargain at an additional $2.50. It was delicious too. Sorry I forgot most of what was in it but it had the usual Okan's thoughtful touch of something herby in addition to the onions - either myoga, mizuna, or julienned shiso.

Once in a while they have a special of the day that isn't on the menu. How can I pass up some mini Japanese Hamburgs???

YUM. Was simmered in a sweeter Japanese Demi Glace.

On an even earlier previous week I visited twice I guess.. ;)

Some nerdy documenting - Okan Basic Meal Set, One and Two..

The special this day was braised beef tongue stew. Man, this was so great!

The Beef Ama-Kara Ni (+$3.50). A simmer with onions not too different than say a Gyudon beef bowl topping but with a stronger condensed flavor.

The poached egg is used to mellow out the high savory/sweet ama-kara. You can dip your meats into the egg a serving at a time (like you would Sukiyaki with raw egg) but I decided to drop whole on top..

HECK.. YES.. ;)

My healthy option of the Seasonal Vegetables and Tofu with Japanese Gravy Sauce (+$3) surprised me and was really great. Three types of mushrooms (shimeji, enoki, shiitake) and four or five different vegetables.. Nothing from a frozen bag here. Even the carrots were diced fresh.

The gravy had an unusually strong dashi with flavors of shiitake mushrooms and was quite satisfying.
The lightly broiled Albacore Tuna Tataki Salad (+$4) also very nice with the tomato ponzu sauce.

The earliest stray lunch photos I found were as back from October.

Opted for white rice this day because...

I think I just had Okan's great Japanese Curry the week before and didn't think twice in ordering the Chicken Katsu Curry. The chicken cutlet was lean but very moist and fried perfectly. The curry was also fantastic as the last. Sweet, spicy, savory, Japanese curry-ness.. With to me the all important Fukushinzuke sweet pickles.

Okan is open for lunch only on the weekdays. Also cash only!

Wa Dining Okan, 3860 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111


K and S said...

beef tongue!

Darlene said...

The artichoke photo itself is beautiful. I really need to make it out there during a lunch hour. I'm a sucker for ume musubi.

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S! Yes, it was really great with larger chunks. They're clever at naming their meals here too. I think it was "Goro Goro Gyutan Stew".. Some thing like that.

Hi Darlene! Do you love ume too!? I'm not a huge fan of sour. A bit random but I'm on a black vinegar diet. I feel I lose my appetite after consuming it so it's been a double benefit, haha.

Anonymous said...

Wow, everything looks so good! I still haven't tried this place yet and it's still at the top of my list of to try's. One day soon...

Kirbie said...

Oh you are really making me crave Okan. I wish the lunch was served on weekends, so that I could try it out.

Dennis K. said...

Hi CAB! If you do visit for dinner I suggest coming no later than 7PM.. It's a tiny place and gets filled quickly. My lunch last week was very mellow but it seems to be unpredictable.

Hi Kirbie, I do too! But when I remember that they weren't open for lunch at all in the past I feel I don't want to push my luck any further. ;)