Update: I've been told that new Owners have taken over Kaisen, and that the "Local-Style" food is gone. It is now more of a Japanese "Bento" Restaurant - Bumma'
Thanks for the update Clark
I'd been hearing about "Kaisen's" over the "coconut wireless" here in San Diego for several years. I'd also been told that Kaisen's had an "Aloha Friday" special that featured Lau Lau and Chicken Long Rice. So with my back feeling better, and having today off, I decided to take the 30 mile trip North to Oceanside, and got to the little strip mall off of Oceanside Blvd where Kaisen's is located.
I arrived a bit early and the restaurant wasn't open yet, so I had time to peruse the menu:
With lot's of "local kine" specials. But the sign that caught my eye was this:
It was Friday, and it looked like I was in luck! It was no-brainer really. As the waitress brought me the menu, I just pointed to the sign and said - "I'll take dat", funny how the pidgen starts coming out when I'm in places like these.
While I waited for my food I had a chance to look around. Kaisen's occupies a pretty large space, crowned by a sushi bar in the middle of the back area, and lot's tables and booths, and even a small stage. The spacing in this cavernous area is excellent with lot's of "elbow room".
After a few minutes my lunch arrived.
The plate came with a medium sized lau lau, a little bowl of lomi salmon, a bowl of chicken long rice, a slice of sweet potato, macaroni salad, and I decided to forgo rice and had bowl of poi. To bad there was no chili pepper water, oh well, can't win 'em all. Those of you who know me, would probably get a really good laugh out of the poi; it's not among my favorite things, but somehow, time makes the heart (and stomach) grow fonder, and since I haven't had poi in at least 9 or 10 years, I thought what the heck.
Now to the nitty-gritty, the macaroni salad was very bland and plain, needed some zing. The sweet potato was really good, sweet and starchy, and not over-cooked, making it very enjoyable. As for the lau lau, the luau leaf tasted good (and it was luau leaf!), but was under cooked, and somewhat more solid than I'm used to. The pork was kinda dry, but the taste was ok, I think I even spied a little bit of salted fish as well. Overall, not bad, it at least tasted like lau lau, not like what some of those frozen "things" taste like, and was very aromatic. The chicken long rice had pieces of really cooked celery, onions, and tomato (a new one for me!). And a rather large piece of chicken. There was a nice essence of chicken and ginger, with good balance. With a shot of shoyu this was probably the best thing on the plate. The lomi salmon was too mild, and not salty enough. And the poi was really runny and not "sour" enough for me, actually rather bland as a whole. So what's my solution? It's the typical, "local" solution; I mixed my lomi salmon in the poi, and scarfed the darn thing up in a second! I also got the onions (no Hawaiian salt! Auwe!) and dipped them into this mixture! Delici-yoso!
Kaisen's is a bit far for me, and the food really doesn't warrant a 30 mile drive. But I saw some of the other dishes (the chicken katsu and kalua pork looked good) and they caught my interest, so I may make another trip in the near future; I'll drop in for sure if I'm the neighborhood. I've also heard the sushi is pretty good and the service is very friendly. Kaisen's features Hawaiian Music on Saturdays and Wednesdays as well.
Kaisen Sushi and Hawaiian Grill
1906 Oceanside Blvd Ste H
Oceanside, CA 92054