RakiRaki Owner Opens Japanese Fried Chicken Restaurant In San Diego

April 4, 2021

The owner of San Diego ramen destination RakiRaki has opened Junya's Crispy Karaage, a Japanese fried chicken restaurant now open in Kearny Mesa. 

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 stylishly designed 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. Last year, a fourth branch of RakiRaki opened in Mira Mesa. Watanabe also operates a Rakiraki stand in Liberty Public Market. Earlier this year, Watanabe converted both Pokirrito eateries and RakiRaki Little Italy to become The Yasai, a fully-vegan Japanese restaurant. He also opened and closed a Japanese hand roll concept called J/Wata Temaki Bar

Watanabe's latest concept centers around Japanese-style fried chicken karaage. Junya’s Crispy Karaage was developed in Tokyo with Watanabe's mentor Chef Kazuhito Higuchi, who operates the 2 Michelin-starred Higuchi in Japan. The menu features hormone and antibiotic free chicken that is marinated for 2 days in organic fermented soy sauce and spices, then dry-spiced and double fried and served with house dipping sauces. The chicken is available in boxes, or as sliders, smothered in curry sauce with rice, or in ramen. Initially, the concept will operate from the original RakiRaki off Convoy but will eventually spread to other branches. 

For more information, visit rakirakiramen.com.