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