Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wa Okan dining

Wa Okan Dining
3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 279-0941
okanus.com



I have been wanting to try Okan for a while.  For the past few months, every weekend after shopping at Nijiya I would say to Boyfriend, “We still need to try Okan.” Boyfriend and I finally got around to trying it last weekend, and my only regret is that we didn’t go check it out earlier.


The interior is small, but very nicely decorated.  There is a big bar in the middle of the room, where you can sit at and some small tables surrounding the bar.  Usually I enjoy a quiet booth, but the bar is definitely the way to go at this place to get the full dining experience.


On the outside of the place, there is a chalkboard with the specials for the day. 


 


Once inside, they will give you a menu of the specials and a regular menu.  Also, the bar has dishes on display.  You can take a look at the bowls of food around you and choose ones you like and they will serve you a portion in a small bowl/plate.  The cost for these small dishes were $3.75.



To my distress, I realized I forgot the battery to my camera after arriving at Okan.  So I had to rely on camera phone pictures.


Boyfriend and I ordered a variety of dishes from the bar, the specials menu and the regular menu.


First up, kabocha salad. I love kabocha and am always interested in trying it cooked different ways. The salad was one of the items on display at the bar.



 

The salad was yummy.  It reminded me of a mix of two salads I am used to eating: my mom’s asian potato salad and my mom’s cucumber salad.  The kabocha tasted like potato salad.  There were also sweet, thin slices of cucumber which was very similar in taste to my mom’s cucumber salad made with vinegar and sugar.

 

We also ordered the stir-fried burdock from the bar.  The waitress scooped out a portion and then went into the kitchen to  get it heated up.

Sorry for the blurry photo.  This was delicious.  I haven’t eaten much burdock, and I really enjoyed this.  Very flavorful and simple.

 

We also ordered the gobo salad.


It looked so pretty, with the fried gobo on top.  Boyfriend really liked this dish.  It was not my favorite.  I though the fried gobo was too oily and I don’t really like the vinegar sauce on the salad.


We also ordered the yam cakes.



I eat a lot of this normally, but in the noodle form. I was surprised by how flavorful they were able to make these yam pieces.  By itself, the yam cake really has no flavor.  I usually use it as soup noodles.  I never buy the solid chunks because I didn’t know what to do with it. 


Next we had the braised pork belly.




This was good, but not the best I’ve had.  And a bit too salty for my tastes. 


Of course, Boyfriend had to order the tuna sashimi special.

I didn’t have any, but he said it was very good.


We also ordered the whitefish tempura, another special of the day.

This was probably the most disappointing item of the night.  There was no flavor in the batter, the fish, or the sauce. 


I had been craving egg omelet, so I wanted to order one.  The regular menu has several options.  The special menu had an egg omelet with eel, so I decided to try that one out.

The egg portion was very good.. Soft, fluffy and silky in texture.  The egg was bursting with flavors of the broth it had been cooked in.  However, I didn’t really enjoy the combination with the eel. Next time I’ll order it some other way.


Boyfriend and i really enjoyed how the place was decorated.  There were just so many simple, nice touches.  I finished eating before Boyfriend and had some time to reflect on my meal.  Before visiting Okan, I had read several reviews and knew that this was supposed to be more homestyle type dishes.  However, it wasn’t until the end of my meal that I really was able to grasp what that meant.


We had been seated in front of this large bowl of fried tofu.  I hadn’t ordered any because it looked very similar to a dish my mom often makes, and so I didn’t really have a desire to see what this one tasted like.  (Though after tasting so many other delicious items from the bar, I wanted to try this one too, but I was too full.)

So I was staring at this bowl of tofu all night.  And at the end of the night, while I waited for Boyfriend to finish, it suddenly dawned on me that this tofu dish was not the only dish that looked familiar to me.  It definitely looked the most familiar, but every other dish displayed at the bar was also similar to some dish I have eaten at home throughout the years, made by my mom.  Since I’m not Japanese, i don’t know exactly what homestyle Japanese dishes are.  But since Japanese cuisine is very similar to Chinese, I imagine the homestyle dishes are similar as well.


It was at that moment– looking at all the dishes displayed and finding their equivalent dish to one I have had at home– that I truly realized what people had meant about this place having “homestyle” dishes.  And the cute little note at the beginning of the menu, explaining how “okan” means mom really hit home for me.  I had been feeling really happy at the end of the meal, and I didn’t realize until then why I was feeling so warm and fuzzy inside.  It was the feeling of home that the foods had given me without me even realizing it.


I left Okan with a big smile on my face.  I will definitely be back.

Wa Dining Okan on Urbanspoon

 

9 Responses to “Wa Okan dining”

  1. 1

    Willy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

    They all look very interesting, but do they have noodles or dishes with rice?
    I want to try those kind of food, but I’m afraid that they won’t fill me up. Hehehe…

  2. 2

    Kirbie — June 5, 2009 @ 11:51 am

    Hi Willy- they do have some noodle and rice dishes as well. The quantities do tend to be on the small side so I wouldnt recommend trying this place if you are starving (unless you are willing to shell out a lot of money.) But I don’t think you need to worry about not being filled.

  3. 3

    joanh — June 10, 2009 @ 3:49 am

    do eat sashimi? the potato cucumber salad sounds good

  4. 4

    Kirbie — June 16, 2009 @ 11:18 am

    I eat sashimi but I don’t love it. Which is weird because I love fish. Something about the raw texture just isn’t as appetizing to me.

  5. 5

    SDchica — June 26, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

    How do you get to take all these great photos? Do you ask permission? Is it on the sly? These photos are too good for an iPhone thing.

  6. 6

    Kirbie — June 30, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    I just took pictures of the food I ordered. I didn’t ask permission–I don’t think you need to ask permission to take photos of your food. it wasn’t on the sly either. It was pretty obvious I was photographing my food. And the photos were actually taken with my iphone. I guess it did a pretty decent job.

  7. 7

    SDchica — July 1, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

    Gorgeous photos! Makes me want to pick up a chopstick now and start eating!

  8. 8

    Wa Dining Okan | Kirbie Cravings — October 11, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    [...] and I had a lovely experience the last time we were at Okan.  But somehow we never got a chance to make it back until recently. We finally got around to [...]

  9. 9

    Wa Okan Dining (Lunch) | Kirbie Cravings — October 20, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    [...] can read my previous dinner visits to Okan here and [...]

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