Strange thing happened this past weekend....well, along with not having to go into the office to catch up on things, I had both of my planned dinner with friends cancelled....this up and down weather thing seems to be taking a toll on folks here. So, that first evening, I just headed out on Clairemont Mesa thinking I'd figure something out by the time I got to Convoy....and if not, well, I was hoping I'd be able to find a seat at Taisho. Right before passing over the 805, I glanced to my left and saw the Open Sign flashing in the window of Okan Diner. Then I remembered reading in the Eater that Okan Diner was doing a soft opening on this weekend. So I thought, "why not"?
The space looks about the same as when I visited during Izakaya Kanpai's short run. Looks like they've put up some portable dividers and other touches.
The menu, in current state are pretty standard appetizers; agedashi tofu and the like, Udon and Soba in both traditional and perhaps a bit strange and fusion versions...would "Mom" (Okan means Mom) make Vongole Udon...or even "Pho Udon"? And kamameshi; "iron pot rice". Many items are not yet available, but there was still quite a bit to choose from in those three categories.
I started with a favorite; Shishito Peppers ($5).
These were deep fried and as such a bit on the "oily" side. Very good quality though and every once in a while you'd get that one spicy pepper...aaah shishito roulette. The soy based dressing was good, not too salty, good vinegar, and the katsubushi added a good savory touch. Pretty much by the book and done well.
For some reason; I decided on the Kamo Udon ($15), in retrospect, I probably should have gone with Kakiage/Kitsune/Nabeyaki...something more traditional.
As you can tell by the portion size (I remember seeing these bowls in Kanpai), this wasn't very much. The duck was over cooked by my standards and had gotten tough in the broth. The noodles were excellent, nice pull and chew, though that 325 yen bowl at Mugimaru Yaesu Minamiguchi had noodles even better than these. The broth was on the weak side by my taste....though you can tell by my Kitsune Udon that I enjoy a more assertive flavor. This was just too watery for me, the dashijiru too weak.
Of course it was still during the soft opening period, so I intended on revisiting once they had the grand opening.
Then my next dinner got cancelled and I just decided to go back to Okan Diner.
This time I decided to try the Kamameshi and the Kakuni version ($17.50) of the iron kettle rice dish looked like it would fit the bill.
In terms of rice, this looked like more than I could handle. But surprisingly, I managed to finish all of it. The drill is simple; you mix the nicely flavored rice.......I was told it was cooked in a bone broth adding a layer of richness. I shredded up the pork, which, while a bit tougher than I prefer, was still moist and the seasoning was right on for Buta Kakuni in the soy sauce-sugar-mirin kind of way. You add the poached egg and mix in making a lovely gooey, but delicious mess. Scoop into bowl and enjoy. Next time, I'll go easier on the ginger as it tended to over power the flavors.
This was quite satisfying, if a bit on the expensive side. I'll probably try another version soon...though probably not the Salmon with Ikura as the bar for that has been set very high.
The other two young ladies were a bit unorganized...even though I know one of them from Okan. I'm sure they'll straighten things out.
Currently, the hours of operation is from 5pm to 1030pm daily. I'm hoping they'll eventually open for lunch.
5430 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117