In this day and age, it is difficult to find authentic Japanese food here in San Diego. Many restaurants have strayed away from traditional preparation methods and fresh ingredients, conforming to the hype of “fast food”. Wa Dining Okan in Kearny Mesa has stayed true to its heritage and is the perfect destination for those seeking truly traditional Japanese cuisine.
The word "okan" means mother in western Japanese slang. Keeping this in mind, staff members commit themselves to providing an atmosphere where guests can feel as though they have “returned home”. With soothing natural wood accents and beautiful Japanese artwork adorning the walls, Okan is a space where anyone can feel cozy and warm. The dining room is small and intimate, an ideal place to come relax with friends and leave the stress of life behind. Here you can enjoy a fantastic assortment of appetizers, sashimi and original grilled dishes in true Japanese fashion for lunch or dinner. Every meal is prepared with care, to bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients themselves. In addition, Okan boasts a wonderful selection of authentic sakes, Japanese beer, and wine to complement the vast array of flavors that diners will experience. The restaurant itself is tucked away in the corner of the Nijiya shopping center on the south end of Convoy Street. Only the freshest ingredients are used every day, and Okan offers several unique creations that change with the seasons. Begin with a selection of sashimi, traditionally considered the finest dish in Japanese cuisine. Or, start with a delicious appetizer, such as the home-made pork dumplings, served deep fried or pan fried. For those who prefer vegetarian, try the daikon radish salad with non-oil plum dressing or the deep fried tofu with tempura sauce. Once you have a taste for what is in store, delve into the larger grilled dishes and share a few small plates with friends. Signature creations are showcased along a bi-level, wooden bar at the center of the restaurant in beautiful platters and bowls called "oozara". Choose from classics like roasted duck with green onion, beef tongue steak skewers and other casseroles you would see on a Japanese family’s dinner table. Savor it all with a Japanese draft beer, served in one of Okan’s ceramic fluted cups.
In Asian cuisine, it is traditional to complete the meal with a starch, so be sure to look over the closing rice and noodle dishes, including a medley of rice balls, udon noodles and soba noodles prepared in several ways. But, don’t forget to leave room for dessert, which is much more than a mere afterthought when dining at Okan. The home-made pudding is quite popular, a perfect choice for anyone with a demanding sweet tooth. The pudding is similar to a soft flan and comes drizzled with “black honey”, made with very dark brown sugar. For those with something a bit more subtle in mind, the green tea tiramisu is sure to please. The bold espresso flavor in traditional tiramisu is replaced by the mild taste of green tea and the dessert is topped with a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder. Dessert options change regularly, though whatever the selection, the end result is always a smile.
At Wa Dining Okan, comfort is the goal, and to be sure that every visit is a memorable experience, guests are always welcomed with a warm smile and humble service. Come experience authentic Japanese cuisine in a cozy traditional setting. What are you waiting for?
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