Ben Paek, owner and executive chef of Sakura Ojai, arrived on America’s shores twenty-three years ago from So. Korea where he was trained as a chef. Fifteen years later, he found himself in Ojai where he and his wife are raising their daughter, who recently won a scholarship to the Thacher School.
Before Sakura Ojai moved to its present location, he worked as the restaurant’s chef in its old place. But five years ago, Ben bought the restaurant and moved it into the heart of town. The aromas wafting out of the restaurant entice you inside where patrons dine comfortably in its simple Asian ambience.
The menu is filled with hot and mild choices from appetizers to salads, soups to sushi and sashimi, to Teppan Yaki to Poki Bowls, among the variety of rolls and entrees. There’s also a kids’ menu.
Among the appetizers are “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere:” a large hot sake, 3 pieces of Gyoza, 3 pieces of Nigiri Sushi and 4 pieces of California roll. Or try the “Oyster or Uni Shooter:” Oyster or Uni inside, with Ponzu sauce and sake, smelt egg, quail egg and hot sauce. Or just plain fresh oysters on the half shell with Ponzu sauce. And, a selection for vegetarians.
A favorite lunch special is chicken teriyaki that comes with a selection of tempura and California roll or spicy tuna roll, edamame and steamed rice, which is served with miso soup, a house salad. To bring a Korean flair to your lunch, try the Spicy Chicken Bulgogi: a mix of tempura and sushi, California roll or spicy tuna roll, broiled thinly sliced chicken that is marinated in Korean traditional BBQ sauce.
And, among the desserts, is a Tempura Cheese Cake.
As you’re roaming the golf green, stop by Sakura Ojai for some sushi. Try the egg roll. And, Ben promises, a taste of “something seafood.”
By: Ilona Saari
219 E. Matilija Street
Ojai, California 93023