Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lunching @ Oton - Part Two

A friend of mine recently told me the other day of how he and his Japanese coworkers liked to lunch at Oton (Okan's sister restaurant in the old Osaka Kitchen spot). It reminded me that I should do an update since it's been well over a year and half since I first posted on them opening for lunch service. Maybe worse, it's been a year since I talked about a follow up which of course never happened.

Well not a whole lot has changed to the menu except for maybe an item or two updating and prices going up slightly, but there's also now a rotating weekly special. I also noticed that the rice in their bowls wasn't mushy anymore and at least for me that's something to celebrate. Now if I can only convince them (with many actual failed attempts) to serve a cold Hiyashi Soba I might be a much more seen regular. ;) Sharing tonight about a year's worth of documented meals during my sporadic visits.

Salmon & Ikura Oyako-don ($9). Some may know that Oyako in Oyakodon means family, hence the chicken and egg combination. Although not as common, there's a version of it with Salmon and its roe.

Very decent for the price, and I like their dashimaki tamago, lightly sweet with a noticeable dashi. The mini Udon is $2 extra replacing the miso soup. A very light Kansai style broth but the small amount of tororo-kombu helps in giving extra flavor.

Next your standard Oyako-don ($8+$2 mini Soba).

The egg is done a proper wiggly rare and the chicken cooked through a nice just-tender, but the dashi/don-tsuyu was a bit too subtle for me. Again could be another Kansai regional influence.

My favorite dish here has got to be the Grilled Spicy Harami (Beef Skirt) Bowl ($8). It's also one of the least expensive lunch sets on the menu.

The marinated skirt meat is surprisingly tender and you gotta love that char. I've had this at least twice since.

The most affordable though is the Chicken Soboro-don ($6.50). Fine ground chicken meat seasoned by simmering in a shoyu based lightly sweet/savory broth. A raw quail egg yolk is added here. I'll be honest and say my first was better (this was a little young in simmer time) but still one of my favorite things on their lunch menu.

The miso soup is pretty good here btw, each portion individually reheated. Places should never underestimate a good miso shiru!

The Assorted Sashimi Bowl ($13.50) I thought was just ok. If I remember right it came with some Saba and Maguro, maybe a white fish of some kind (sorry can't remember). Wasn't bad but you can say Sakura has my back when it comes to Kaisen Donburi's... (and Walmido's great Hwe Dup Bap!). [Correction: Though my thoughts on the ASB I have had still remains, the photo may have been a Tekka-don special. A maguro sashimi centered bowl. I still prefer Sakura's which the maguro is lightly marinated.]

A few specials. A Zaru Soba was offered one week earlier in the year. Everything tasted great and I was glad for the Inari for portions sake but made me realize I really need protein to sustain me the rest of the day. :P

I can't remember the name of this Chicken & Onion bowl for the life of me but I did enjoy it a lot.

In flavoring a somewhat typical shoyu based savory/sweet, but the sweet onions really made it for me.

Last but if I remember right had most recent, a Chicken Katsu Bento. (The photo a bad example of shallow depth of field but my MFT camera freaks out and opens up the aperture full in very low light...)

This was pretty excellent actually. The panko portion of the chicken katsu very crispy and super moist inside. Reminds me how so many places just don't understand (or care about) the concept of carryover heat when deep frying.

Since I'm a 5'11" dude, I tend to wish I can add on an extra side (say a hiyayakko, karaage, gyoza, age-dashi dofu, tempura, grilled piece of fish, etc, etc...) to my lunches which their current menu doesn't support. Flavoring tends to be on the lighter side as well but Oton is definitely on my Japanese lunch standby list, and I thank my friend for reminding me. :)

Oton, 5447 Kearny Villa Rd # D, San Diego, CA 92123


caninecologne said...

Very nice compendium of your past meals Dennis! I have only been to Oton once and I totally want to go again - the main reason? Their AWESOME TOILET THAT DOES EVERYTHING!

but seriously, after seeing your post, it's that beef skirt bowl that i want to try. when i went last year, tc had the ground chicken bowl (with the quail egg - the meat was ground so finely. i liked the texture.

Dennis K. said...

Thanks CC! I know you love the toilet there, haha. I think that salad bowl (which I think you didn't care for?) is the only dish I haven't tried. I really need a decent portion of protein to sustain me the rest of the day...