The Yasai is a new vegan Japanese restaurant from Chef Junya Watanabe (RakiRaki). Chef Watanabe has been known for introducing the newest food trends to San Diego and this vegan restaurant follows the current trending plant-based diet.
The restaurant occupies the former Pokirrito location on Convoy, which had been Watanabe’s previous restaurant for introducing new Japanese food trends.
I was definitely intrigued by the plant-based menu and secured a reservation during their soft opening. While there were some hiccups in service, the food came out relatively fast.
crispy battered curry no-chicken, with a dengaku miso sauce, chimichurri mayo, fresh red onion, and dressed organic micro cilantro
I was impressed with how much this looked like traditional karaage. The no-chicken really did taste like chicken though the texture was a little softer than real chicken. The karaage was nicely fried with a thick and crackly crunchy batter. We quite enjoyed this one.
Organic Chawanmushi Misoshiru
housemade tofu custard in organic akadashi-misoshiru with nori, wakame, green onions and enoki mushroom
I love homemade tofu so I was looking forward to trying this one. This was quite pleasant though the tofu custard was a little denser than I expected.
handcrafted triple-thick noodles and classic broth topped with bamboo shoots, wakame seaweed, tofu no-chasiu, crispy kabocha pumpkin, sautéed bean sprouts, green onions, and garlic chips
This was my favorite dish of the night. I usually find vegetarian ramen broth to be a little lacking in flavor, but this broth was rich and packed with umami flavor. I also enjoyed all the textures of the vegetable toppings.
Spicy vegan imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, tomato skins, cherry tomatoes, vegan mayo, Asian mix, yuzu, ume
This was beautifully plated and had a generous amount of fresh avocado. It was a little difficult to eat though because the imitation crab pieces were very small, about the size of large-bread crumbs.
Tomato, Eggplant, Red Bell Pepper, Orange Bell Pepper, Jalapeño, Iniri, Eryngii, Pineapple Konjac, Avocado Konjac
The nigiri looked beautiful, and the charred edges of the peppers really made them resemble slices of raw fish. Taste-wise, of course these tasted nothing like fish, but the sauces and preparations did make them very flavorful.
Kind and Queens
In: panko no-shrimp, cucumber, asparagus
Out: avocado, lemon slices, crispy jalapeno
Top: pickled onions, chimichurri mayo
I was impressed with the no-shrimp. The flavor reminded me of imitation crab meat. This was my favorite of the rolls we tried.
King of the Clouds
In: tempura kabocha pumpkin, cucumber, asparagus
Out: soy paper
Top: avocado mousse, lotus chips
I loved the crispy lotus chips. I did find the rest of the flavors in the roll to be a little plain.
In: japanese spiced impossible meat, asparagus, pickled bell peppers
Out: tempura panko
Top: avocado mousse, sweet miso, kabocha pumpkin creme
Impossible meat has become quite popular lately. I’ve been pretty impressed at how close the flavor and texture is to beef. I think it works best as a burger or slider. It didn’t quite work as well in sushi for me.
Overall, we had a good first visit. I don’t plan on going on a plant-based diet, but I like that the option is available.
4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111