Oak is designed for locals, by locals, and its American food with Latin flair is proving a huge hit with locals

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Finally this week I was able to report on our new restaurant Oak in Laguna Beach.

This was a review I was so excited to do having watched the former Olamendi’s and Seaside Lounge restaurant being literally transformed over the past few months into a stunning contemporary cool space which now has a totally different vibe, making the most of its central location and killer ocean views. 

Upon arrival at Oak, you just know that this place is all about detail, from the stunning wooden flooring that extends to the out door courtyard area, the inviting hostess stand, the artwork, the beautiful crafted bar area with a cool muted tile that faces out to the ocean and the balcony with comfortable and chic furniture. It is truly a job done well and has quickly become the talk of the town.  

Which is exactly what the developers of this restaurant wanted.

Becoming a local hangout was “a most important factor for Oak”

The VP of Hospitality Ann Page explained that being a local hangout was the most important factor in the whole development of Oak. “We wanted a place that local people would love, tourists are of course always welcome, but we really wanted this place to be a local hangout, for families to visit after the beach or for lunch.” (Oak is now open for lunch every day.) 

As well as having a very cool contemporary vibe, Oak’s family-friendly side shines through, with a great kids’ menu and a box of toys, including fidget spinners, for children to choose from upon arrival.

Oak’s local vision is reflected in their menu, which is an array of American comfort cuisine with a Latin flair, developed by Oak’s amazing (more on him later) executive Chef Chris Tzorin. 

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Chef Chris Tzorin’s Oak tattoo: the restaurant has literally gotten under his skin

With dishes such as Brooks Street classic meatballs and cocktails named the Lagunarita and the Brah Berry this menu reads like a conversation between two local surfers on the shore at Hakama. With an array of cocktails, more wine and beer choices than you can quite believe, this restaurant has left no stone unturned when it comes to catering for Laguna locals. 

I was delighted to speak to Chef Tzorin himself to hear just how he developed this menu and his journey to becoming executive chef of Oak.

It seems that, as with many people who end up in Laguna Beach, there is history and a magic that connects people to our town and chef Tzorin is no different. Upon meeting Chef Tzorin I liked him right away, he is straight talking but with edginess, a coolness that is emulated by his many tattoos: he actually has OAK tattooed on his arm. He’s like a rock star chef but is a family man with a beautiful fiancée, one young son and a baby on the way in January. His father was the corporate chef of the Beach House (before the The Deck and Driftwood Kitchen) in Laguna as well as two other locations. 

At the young age of 20, Chef Tzorin first became an executive chef

Chef Tzorin loved to cook from a very early age. At 13, he would regularly take charge in the family kitchen and would ask question after question regarding the science of cooking, and his father encouraged him to always carry a notebook, so that if he ever had a question or an idea he could quickly write it down. He still carries this notebook in his back pocket to this this day.  

At 17 years old Chef Tzorin would leave La Quinta High School every day and take the bus from Westminster to Laguna to help his father out in Laguna Beach, it was here he really fell in love with the town. Working with his father taught him many things: kitchen skills, how to pace himself for long shifts, budgeting and devising menu’s based on specials and seasons. As well as working at the Beach House, Chef Tzorin was also enrolled in culinary school, where he graduated with honors at 19 years old.

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The Heirloom beet salad looked beautiful and tasted great

At age 20, Chef Tzorin decided to leave the Beach House, for no other reason than he needed to spread his wings independently from his father. He took up residency at Opah under the watchful eye of Laguna’s favorite Marc Cohen (230 Forest and Watermarc). Chef Tzorin learned so much from Marc Cohen and thrived under his watchful eye as a sous chef.  

During that year he received a call from the Beach House location in Dana Point offering him the Executive Chef position. “I was 20 years old,” Tzorzin says, “and being offered an Executive chef position, no way would I turn that down.” 

After a successful time there, Chef Tzorin moved onto private catering, before working at acclaimed restaurants such as French 75 and Savannah Chop House and he was instrumental in the opening of Tortilla Republic located here in Laguna Beach. It seems that Laguna just kept luring him back.

A star on TV too

Following a brief hiatus from restaurant cooking, Chef Tzorin worked in cooking PR, private classes and was involved in television programs such as Cut Throat Kitchen and Guys Grocery Games (he was the season nine winner). He travelled to Mexico, learning more about culinary fare, specifically locating himself in Tijuana, which has become one of the most dynamic culinary cities in the world.  

After that time he returned to Laguna Beach, more knowledgeable, more mature and more eager to settle and make something of his own.  

Oak came at the right time and Chef Tzorin has been involved in the whole design of the kitchen ensuring it was just how he wanted it to run.  He designed the menu, sat on the steps at Oak Street Beach, or sat on the staircase below the building as it was renovated, asking various Laguna Beach locals what they wanted on the menu. 

My Food Journey at Oak

I decided to approach this food journey as a true Laguna Beach local. I was salty sandy and fresh off the beach, when my two children and I went in for an after-beach day meal. Our wonderful server Bri Terrafranca seated us and immediately gave us her recommendations, which I love a server to do, as I am very indecisive. We started with a few appetizers family style (to share). 

The calamari served with rice wine coleslaw and sriracha aioli, was delicious: small crispy calamari, pretty spicy to taste but not greasy and a good portion size.  The crispy duck drums were spectacular with a sweet citrus glaze. And my personal favorite, the Local Albacore stack, which consists of a spicy soy sriracha marinade, mango, avocado and wonton chips was so tasty (there was nothing left).

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The crispy duck drums were spectacular

Alongside this we also ordered the Heirloom beet salad, served with burrata cheese, watermelon, radish, candied pecans and garlic oil.  Not only did this look beautiful, but it was so tasty and I loved the combination of the red and golden beets. 

By this point we were kind of full, Oak’s portions are very generous and the thought of trying an entrée was overwhelming. However like true Buckles we rose to the challenge by ordering two dishes to share that we were recommended by the chef and our server. 

First up was Chef Z’s Hot Chicken, which is Chef Tzorin’s take on a chicken sandwich. It is rare I will order chicken sandwich (always favoring a burger) but this was insanely good, served with hot sauce and pickles with a side of fries. Delicious.

Next was the Chilean Sea Bass with whipped potatoes summer squash and blood orange butter. This dish was really tasty and my youngest child, who usually only eats fish if it is breaded, devoured this. 

It was then onto desserts and Oak does not disappoint, they served us a combination of two – Frozen Nutella Cappucino served in a large mug and absolutely decadent, and the doughnuts and ice cream which my children boxed, took home and devoured for breakfast the next day. (I know, I am Mother of the Year.) 

The food at Oak was great, we shall definitely return, but that is only one part of this place that will bring me back. This place has thought of nothing but locals in its design and its execution. The staff are wonderful, the chef is inspiring and they are open to suggestion critique and adjustments. 

I urge you to go and try it as soon as you can. Oak is located at1100 South Coast Highway, #202 (above Gina’s pizza). Phone: 949.940.3010

Website: http://www.oak-lagunabeach.com


Waterman’s Ball was wonderful

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

On Saturday August 5, The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) honored inspirational professional surfer Bethany Hamilton as Waterman of the Year; Parley For The Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch as Environmentalist of the Year; and all- around surf industry legend Herbie Fletcher with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  

A Special Recognition Award was also presented to the International Surfing Association (ISA), the world governing body for surfing, for its unwavering and successful efforts in getting surfing included in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

The 28th Annual Waterman’s Weekend was held at one of my favorite venues, The Ranch at Laguna Beach. This year the entire event was held at The Ranch with the Waterman’s Golf Tournament at Ben Brown’s Golf Course. The tournament took place on Friday, August 4 and featured a 3-club and barefoot format.

On Saturday, August 5 the industry gathered under the stars at The Ranch for the Waterman’s Gathering to celebrate this year’s honorees, raise money through silent and live auctions and enjoy a farm-to-table meal with friends.

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Laura Buckle with Bethany Hamilton

I was lucky enough to be invited along once again to cover this fabulous night for Stu News and as always the event did not disappoint. 

The Award Winners

Waterman (woman of the year) Bethany Hamilton: Bethany Hamilton is known around the world as the inspirational pro surfer whose determination, heart, and skills brought her back to competitive surfing after a shark attack in 2003. The attack left her without her left arm, however she overcame the odds to return to surfing at the highest level. 

Hamilton’s story has reached far beyond the surf community. Following the release of her autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (2009), and later with the release of the feature film Soul Surfer (2011) she inspired millions with her story. Hamilton continues to be an inspiration through her pro surfing and big wave accomplishments, and as an author, wife, and mother. 

I was lucky enough to talk to her and meet her beautiful family briefly where we discussed her life and her remarkable “just get on with it” determined attitude.

My children encouraged me to ask her one question, which was “Are you afraid of anything?” her answer was not being a good enough mom or a good enough wife is the only thing that scares her. She was truly deserving of this marvelous award and it was a complete pleasure talking to her. 

Environmentalist of the Year

SIMA’s 2017 Environmentalist of the Year was German-born Cyrill Gutsch who is a designer and creative entrepreneur based in New York City. At first glance, not what one would expect in an ocean environmentalist honoree, but a life-changing meeting with Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society inspired Gutsch to commit his life to protecting the world’s oceans back in 2012. That meeting was the catalyst for founding Parley For The Oceans, a non-profit network that seeks to facilitate collaboration across the fields of business, government, activism, art and science – with the ultimate objective of conserving the earth’s oceans. Gutsch has worked tirelessly in connecting many walks of life, people, cultures and businesses in order to create change, from pro surfers Greg Long and Ramon Navarro to Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth to companies such as Adidas and Corona. Gutsch is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the health of the earth’s oceans.

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Caption

“While he may not be widely known in the surf world yet, I can tell you that Cyrill is without question someone who is a friend of surfers around the world,” said Paul Naude, SIMA Environmental Fund President and CEO of Vissla. “Simply put, Cyrill is an agent of change, and his work to create a forum and network of others who want to protect our oceans is what the world needs right now. And the surf industry needs it more than ever. We couldn’t be happier to award Cyrill with the Environmentalist of the Year award.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: Herbie Fletcher

A Southern California native, Fletcher has continued to re-invent himself and the industry since he began surfing in 1948. In 1976 Fletcher created the revolutionary peel-and-stick Astrodeck, and went on to become an icon of self-promotion. In fact, his first foray into film in 1985 (Wave Warriors) was a self-made promotional movie for Astrodeck, and was followed by with four successful sequels. Fletcher was not only behind the camera, but also starred in several surf films in the 70s and 80s.

As the patriarch of the famous Fletcher clan (wife Dibi, sons Christian and Nathan and grandsons Greyson, Lazer and Jetson), Herbie remains as integrated in the industry as ever. His most recent projects include a RVCA + Astrodeck collaboration, and creating fine art pieces from broken surfboards.

Special Recognition Award – ISA – Fernand Aguerre

In August 2016, the announcement was made to the world that surfing would be included in the Olympic Games after decades of hard work and dedication from the ISA. SIMA honored the work of the ISA with the 2017 Special Recognition Award as the surfing community prepares itself for its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The award was presented to ISA President Fernando Aguerre who has tirelessly spearheaded ISA’s Olympic Surfing movement, a vision first pioneered by Duke Kahanamoku who is widely regarded as the “father of modern surfing” and was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming.  

Fernando was the life and soul of the evening’s event, both he and his wife were the most colorful people in town with smiles to match their fabulous outfits.

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The Ranch provided exquisite food

Mark Christy and the team at The Ranch pulled out all the stops for this event. The venue was beautifully presented, the organization ran without a hitch and the food we ate on the fairway of hole nine was exquisite. Not only did I feel an overwhelming sense of pride for the winners but also for The Ranch, which is proving itself to be one of the most fabulous venues In Laguna Beach.

A little bit about SIMA

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) is the official working trade association of more than 300 surf industry suppliers. Founded in 1989, SIMA is a non-profit organization that serves to promote awareness of the surf industry and participation in the sport of surfing through public relations efforts and a variety of services, educational programs and research. 

In addition, SIMA actively supports oceanic environmental efforts through its 501(c)(3) charitable environmental foundation, the SIMA Environmental Fund. In the past 27 years, SIMA’s Environmental Fund has raised more than $7 million for environmental groups seeking to protect the world’s oceans, beaches and waves. 

The SIMA Humanitarian Fund, also a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, was established to award grants to various surf or boardsport related social and humanitarian non-profit organizations whose efforts are focused on improving the quality of life, health and/or welfare of people. Since 2004 the SIMA Humanitarian Fund has raised and donated more than $1.7 million to surf-related non-profit humanitarian organizations. For more information regarding SIMA, visit www.sima.com.


Ruby’s is a great diner for kids with delightful options for the determined adult dieter

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

In two weeks’ time myself and 11 other Laguna Beach moms head to Mexico to celebrate one of our party’s “Big Birthdays” – cue many group photographs and postings by a luxurious infinity pool.  

Therefore like most women (those of us who admit it) my calorie intake has reduced and my workout rate has dramatically increased so that I don’t represent a beached whale in Cabo San Lucas.

So imagine my horror when my food report schedule brings up Ruby’s Diner. Not the place (or so I thought) I should be eating at so close to this impending vacation.

Ruby’s Diner is a legacy, with more than 35 years of experience and over 35 restaurants in the USA. This American diner has stood the test of time in delivering a diner inspired vibe and an enormous menu in keeping with that. 

Run on the beach inspires Ruby’s

The idea for Ruby’s Diner was born in 1980 after a run on the beach. Doug Cavanaugh had just returned to his native Southern California after successfully restoring and running a restaurant on Nantucket Island off Cape Cod. One evening he was brainstorming about business opportunities with his father, and remembered that he had seen a dilapidated building at the end of Balboa Pier while jogging along the beach. Although the building was in pretty bad shape, Cavanaugh noticed its architecture really lent itself well to that of a 1940’s diner. With his father’s encouragement, Cavanaugh started to make the restaurant a reality.  The restaurant’s name came from his mother Ruby, as did the logo of the brand.

The location I visited was in South Laguna. It is a bright white and red building (as are all the diners) with an array of vintage vehicles located outside, it reminds me of a scene out of Happy Days, and delights visitors (especially children) daily. In fact, I always make sure that when families visit me from the UK and they have children that this is where we bring them for a true “diner experience.”

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Ruby’s Laguna Beach

For this report, I took along two children, one of whom doesn’t enjoy red meat and one who is burger crazy.

We were greeted by the manager of the Laguna Beach location, Victoria Douglas, who has been with Ruby’s for 15 years (although she doesn’t look old enough!). Victoria took us upstairs to our table, where we had a beautiful ocean view. 

The menu is large and takes some reading, there is a full page dedicated to Ruby’s famous 16 different flavor shakes so obviously that’s where the girls decided to start.

 They chose an Oreo child’s milk shake and a chocolate banana milkshake. Each milkshake is handmade to order, so don’t expect these to be rushed out, but believe me it is totally worth the wait.

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The shakes are great

As I mentioned before Ruby’s menu is vast, there’s a kids menu, appetizers and sides, fresh salads, chilis, soups, shakes, premium burgers, extraordinary burgers, all American sandwiches, big plates, classic burgers, turkey burgers, all day breakfasts and desserts.

As I scoured the menu, I was amazed at all the options and then I felt I had struck gold, Ruby’s really does cater for everyone. There is a full section of DE-LITE-FUL dishes to choose from all under 650 calories! All of a sudden the Mexico swimsuit anxiety lifted.

The children ordered, one child going for the chicken fingers with fries. Ruby’s fries are completely trans fat free and there is an option of a fries refill upon request.  The chicken fingers were tasty, succulent white chicken in a crispy breadcrumb coating. Just to make sure we got our greens that day, we also ordered a side Caesar salad, which was very tasty. 

The other child ordered a kid’s cheeseburger, fully loaded with added Ruby’s sauce, which tastes a lot like a Thousand Island dressing, but has added spices. This was delicious and a large burger for a child. 

I decided to go for the DE-LITE-FUL garden burger, a garden burger patty served on a whole wheat (or gluten free) bun with non fat mayo, half cheese, crisp lettuce and tomato accompanied by a side salad. This was seriously good, and felt much more naughty than 650 calories! 

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The garden burger was less than 650 calories

The children decided not to go for the dessert option, way too full from the shake and the main meal. And I obviously did not want to spoil my healthy momentum. 

Ruby’s Diner is really great, its food is good, the atmosphere great and for children it’s a little bit magical.

The restaurant offers weekly promotions and on a Tuesday evening kids eat free. It really is fun for the whole family and there is an option to be healthy if you’re under a little pressure.

Ruby’s Laguna Beach 30622 S. Coast Hwy, is open 7a.m  – 9 p.m. Call (949) 497 7829 or go to www.rubys.com for more information. 


Selanne Steak Tavern’s executive chef is named Culinary Visionary for Flavors of Orange County

Award-winning Joshua Severson, who has served as executive chef of Selanne Steak Tavern since its opening in 2013, has been chosen to be the Culinary Visionary for the 2017 American Liver Foundation Flavors of Orange County gala fundraiser. 

On Sunday, October 15, at The Duke Hotel Newport Beach, Chef Severson and Selanne Steak Tavern will be recognized for ongoing dedication, support and commitment to the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Liver Foundation.

Flavors of Orange County is a special culinary experience that showcases the signature dishes of area chefs who are invited to participate in this distinct evening featuring a cocktail reception and fine dining. Each participating chef will create a unique five-course dinner to be served tableside for one table of 12 guests. In addition, the glamorous evening hosted by celebrity chef and lifestyle expert Jamie Gwen will feature exciting silent and live auctions.

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Executive Chef Joshua Severson

“I am highly honored to be designated as the 2017 culinary visionary of Flavors of Orange County,” said Severson. “And, I look forward to working on this important American Liver Foundation fundraiser. It is my goal to help invite and lead a team of outstanding OC chefs who want to show off their culinary talents to discerning guests. I am pleased to do all I can to promote such an amazing evening of giving.”

Owner Kevin Pratt noted, “From the beginning, it has always been our goal at Selanne Steak Tavern to offer the highest level of food, drinks and hospitality to our guests from far and near. Also, co-owner Teemu Selanne and I always strive to support important causes that affect the health and wellness of children and adults in Orange County and beyond.

“Being a part of the American Liver Foundation’s Flavors of Orange County is a meaningful way we can help others,” he added.

The 14th Annual Flavors of Orange County event takes place on Sunday, Oct 15 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Duke Hotel, Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd.

Ticket cost is $355. To buy tickets, visit https://alfflavors.org/orangecounty/tickets/

For more information: Visit https://alfflavors.org/orangecounty/

The mission of the American Liver Foundation is to facilitate, advocate and promote education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. For more information, visit liverfoundation.org.

Selanne Steak Tavern, located at 1464 South Coast Highway opened in November 2013 and is owned by Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne and local Orange County businessman Kevin Pratt. Housed in a reimagined 1934 historic home along the Pacific Coast, it’s an upscale contemporary steak house with a downstairs tavern, bar and wine library, a loft upstairs for more intimate dining and two patios for alfresco dining. 

Selanne Steak Tavern is open for dinner only, nightly starting at 5 p.m. For reservations and more information, call 949-715-9881 or visit www.selannesteaktavern.com.


Zinc is a vegetarian restaurant with dishes certain to whet the appetites of carnivores too

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Opened in 1988, Zinc Laguna Beach has been a favorite among the locals for more than 28 years.  Zinc Cafe was inspired by the quality food movement initiated by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Since Zinc opened its Laguna Beach location, Zinc has gone from strength to strength, opening in Corona del Mar and Los Angeles. And by that I mean, it really does crush any myths that a vegetarian restaurant leaves a non-vegetarian person feeling less than satisfied. 

Zinc food is beautifully fresh, tasty, with generous portion sizes and adventurous ingredients. It offers and breakfast and lunch menu seven days a week, changes its soups daily and offers fantastic specials. It also serves brunch cocktails, beer and wine. 

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Start with a delicious latte

I decided to report on breakfast (as its one of my favorite breakfast venues in Laguna Beach) and took my best veggie friend Cottie and her puppy Flounder (yes that is right, Zinc is dog friendly).

Our Food Journey at Zinc

When we arrived at Zinc, it was (as always at 10 a.m.) very busy, luckily we managed to grab a table for two.  There is no table service at Zinc, but cold water is available on a self-serve system and there are staff on hand to clear tables and keep guests comfortable.   

Diners are required to go inside the bar to order food, where drinks are made and then you are given a device which buzzes when your food is ready for collection.  

I ordered a large almond milk latte and a Zinc Mimosa, the drinks came quickly. Zinc coffee is great coffee, pretty strong in taste but very smooth. The Zinc mimosa was really delicious, sparking wine, orange juice, peach juice and raspberry puree. It had the look of a sunset and tasted just as sweet.

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Dill’s what does it

It was then onto the food, the breakfast menu consists of an eggs section, specialties section, fruit yoghurt and sides as well as cereal and a selection of baked goods.

My friend Cottie ordered the avocado toast from the specialties menu and it really is special, consisting of smashed avocado, dill, lemon dressed radish salad, chives onion and lemon zest, and she added a poached egg.  This is one of my favorite things on the menu at Zinc, the combination of the dill and chives in the smashed avocado make it so tasty. You can have this with wheat toast or gluten free.

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Breakfast bowl: it’s delicious and fresh

I decided to go for the breakfast burrito bowl, which included delicious scrambled eggs, vegetarian sausage onion sauté, white cheddar, avocado, pico de gallo and fire roasted salsa. This is a fabulous dish and is available as a burrito wrap also. What I love about this dish as it feels like a hearty breakfast and definitely something that you could give the token carnivore that may be in your group. 

As well as a fabulous café, Zinc also has a wonderful take out café and coffee shop for lunch or brunch on the go.  I often buy their full cakes for parties and palm them off as my own (oops maybe I gave the game away..)

There’s a reason Zinc has been busy since 1988 – it’s great quality and value vegetarian food done so incredibly well. I don’t know one person in Laguna who has never visited.

Zinc is located at 350 Ocean Ave.


Need a cure for lunchtime blahs? Head to Okura, perfect for lunch meetings (and dinner conversations)

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Six weeks ago marked the arrival of Okura Laguna Beach’s new manager Chad Abell. Managing restaurants is in Chad’s blood. Originally he hails from northern California, where his father worked in fine Italian dining all of his life before going on to run a selection of Fiore restaurants in the region.  

Chad moved to southern California and began to manage the Marbella Country Club in San Juan Capistrano, before moving onto the St Regis where he obtained his Fine Dining training. A shift in the management of the St Regis saw him leave there and take up a position at Mozambique, where he worked as the banqueting captain for three years before moving to Okura to become the manager of the restaurant.

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Yum, oysters

And Chad has big ideas. Okura is Laguna Beach’s largest sushi restaurant, located where many businesses have sadly struggled, due to the size of the space. However Okura seems to have been ticking along nicely since 2015. 

As with most businesses, there is always room for growth and improvement, especially during the quieter winter months.  Chad is already working on a new cocktail menu, which will incorporate Japanese inspired cocktails such as a green tea martini and an alternative Bloody Mary. They have also introduced happy nights on a Monday and Tuesday, where the regular Happy Hour, which is 4-6 p.m. every weekday, has been extended until closing time. This is one of the best happy hours available in a sushi establishment, with many dishes and drinks being half the price.  

Chad explains that the food in Okura sells itself (more on that from me later): he is eager to focus on the regeneration of the bar area.

The next step is to try and obtain a live music license (pretty please to anyone on city council reading this). It’s surprising that such large space does not have this feature, but Chad is confident and determined to get this passed. Their recent sponsorship and collaboration with our local radio station KX 93.5 means that if and when they do get a live music license, you will be sure to see some great local artists performing there.

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Sashimi and sushi is fresh and delicious

In the meantime, Okura offers a phenomenal lunchtime menu. I regularly use Okura for business meetings and hopefully by the end of reading this report, I will have convinced any business owner out there to do the same.  

As mentioned previously Okura is a large restaurant, with the capacity to seat many big parties, perfect for a large business lunch or meeting. It is also very well arranged, so that the spacing of the tables allows for intimate conversation, should there be just a couple of people.

The tables themselves are also large, accommodating laptops, notepads or any other equipment you may need for a working lunch. The restaurant is air conditioned, which is a must (especially over the last week).

The lunchtime menu is a colorful array of salads, lunch combinations, bento boxes sushi sashimi rolls and specialty rolls. It also offers a wide range of Gluten Free alternatives. There’s truly something for everyone.

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Sushi can be ordered gluten free

During the lunch menu drinks are available at happy hour prices, but this was a business meeting with my other boss Tyler Russell of KX 93.5 FM and I needed to keep a clear head. 

I ordered a surprise, but specified I wanted the gluten free option, eager to see if it would be as good as the rest of the menu. I was not disappointed. I was presented with the shitake beet salad, crispy shitake mushroom, goat cheese, and walnuts with marinated beet. Alongside this was an array of sashimi served of course with wasabi and ginger and tamari (gluten free) sauce. This was light, tasty and felt so incredibly healthy. It was just the right amount of food for me at lunchtime, without leaving me with an overly full feeling.

Tyler also ordered a dish to be surprised but this time not gluten free…in fact, he ordered extra gluten ha ha! He was presented with a variety of sashimi served over sticky rice and colorful special rolls. It was all perfect and a delightful accompaniment to our working lunch. 

Chad then treated us to some Kumamoto oysters, these were the cream of the crop, delicious tasty oysters, with a magnificent kick. I would highly recommend these if you can cope with a little spice.

All in all my experience at Okura was, as always, really great. The food is consistently spectacular and if you take advantage of the weekly happy hours and specials, it can be a cost effective place to eat.  

Okura is available to hire as a private venue and it also offers outside catering. 

www.okurasushi.com (949) 793-4320 · 858 S Coast Hwy

Kya

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc

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