Restaurant review: OOKA

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By Johnathan Kroncke

By Johnathan Kroncke

If you are looking for a classy dinner spot without the inflated prices, I have the perfect place for you.

Ooka Japanese Restaurant is nestled in the center of the Riverside Plaza, right next to the movie theater. Its stylish in its interior design and delicious in its selection of exotic Japanese cuisine.

Ooka offers three separate dining areas including a traditional dining room, a sushi bar and a hibachi-style where the meal is prepared in front of you.

I visited this popular spot on a Friday evening. By the dinner hour, it was full to capacity. However, the service never slowed one step: an impressive feat for such a crowded establishment.

To begin with, the beverage section not only covers the basic soda and iced tea, but it also consists of some more unusual choices.

I tried the coconut milk served over ice and found it to be both surprisingly sweet and a little tangy, making for a delightful treat. A wide array of interesting appetizers are available, ranging from traditional Japanese soybeans to the more exotic. Being a person who is very familiar with the traditional side of Japanese cuisine, I decided to try the mango summer roll, which consists of mango, raw tuna and avocadodelicately wrapped in sushi rice and rice paper. It is absolutely delicious.

The list of entrées follows in the footsteps of most Japanese restaurants. It consists mainly of sushi, sashimi, beef and chicken. However, it is the combination dinners that make Ooka stand out.

I have already tried the teriyaki beef, which I highly recommend. So, I chose what they call a “non-raw-fish-sushi combo.” This comes with three tasty rolls that are made with raw shrimp, eel and crab instead of fish.

The crab roll that came with my meal is really Ooka’s own personal take on the standard California roll and is wrapped in cucumber with a light sauce that is drizzled on top, giving it just a little extra flavoring.

The entrees come with both salad with a ginger dressing and a bowl of miso soup. The salad is a little heavy on the dressing and the miso soup is ordinary, but these still make a delightful snack to hold you until your meal arrives. Better alternatives for these can be found at places like Akina Sushi Teppan, but they in no way detract from the delicious meal.

As with any decent restaurant, Ooka’s desert menu makes you want to save room for the end. They mix in some different and exotic choices with the traditional desserts that Americans have come to know and love.

I myself chose a crispy banana, fried in tempura batter and served with a generous portion of vanilla ice cream overed in chocolate sauce.

Overall, Ooka is a great place to visit if you are looking to impress that special someone because of its classy look and delicious Japanese food.

While it does not match Burger King in its prices, it is cheaper than many other Japanese restaurants, making it the kind of place you can eat at without worrying about when your next check comes in.

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