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Vegan Japanese Restaurant The Yasai Grand Opens This Weekend

November 14, 2019

The team behind San Diego's Rakiraki Ramen + Tsukemen has rebranded their Pokirrito locations in Little Italy and Kearny Mesa to become The Yasai, an all-vegan Japanese izakaya concept with a branch opening this weekend.

Chef and owner Junya Watanabe first opened the original Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen in the heart of Kearny Mesa's Convoy District in 2012, and the restaurant became an immediate hit due to its stylish design menu of authentic Japanese cuisine, including curry, tsukemen (dipping noodles), rice bowls, a variety of ramen soups, ramen burgers, specialty sushi rolls, and delicious fried chicken karaage. Watanabe took over the space adjacent to Rakiraki for the flagship location of his Pokirrito concept, which unveiled in Spring 2016, offering a counter service menu consisting mainly of poke bowls and giant sushi burritos. A second location of Rakiraki & Pokirrito opened in Little Italy in summer 2016 and a third outpost of RakiRaki launched at 3282 Mission Street in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood in 2017. Watanabe also operates a Rakiraki stand in Liberty Public Market and opened a hand roll-centric sushi concept called J/Wata Temaki Bar near his original RakiRaki space in late 2017.

Watanabe is staying with the culinary trends and has adapted his two former Pokirrito sushi burrito and poke bowl eateries to become The Yasai, which means "vegetables" in Japanese. Pokirrito restaurants at 4646 Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa and 2252 India Street in Little Italy shuttered in late September and the Convoy location will be the first to reopen starting during soft-opening hours on Friday, November 15. The entirely plant-based izakaya will offer ramen, salads, sushi rolls, and a variety of Japanese snacks and dishes. The menu was designed by Watanabe and sushi chef Eduardo Fierro, who previously worked at another plant-based Japanese eatery NoW Sushi in Mission Beach. To celebrate, The Yasai is offering special complimentary dining experiences via online RSVP during their grand opening week from November 24-27. The Yasai Little Italy location is anticipated to open in early 2020 with the addition of an omakase-style vegan sushi bar.

The Yasai is located at 4646 Convoy St., Suite 101-A, in Kearny Mesa. For more information, visit theyasai.com and check out the menu below.