Ooak Kitchen opened up its first US location about three weeks ago in downtown Culver City. According to the server, the restaurant has over 40 locations in China. A second location opened up a week ago in Buena Park. Obviously, the first question is why Culver City and not the San Gabriel Valley? So I asked the manager, who replied candidly that his restaurant would never survive because of the competition there, the attention paid to quality imported ingredients, and that Culver City was carefully chosen (presumably for its demographics, with a larger vegetarian/vegan crowd). But the real question is whether it can survive in Culver City, because the menu looks like something that would play better in the San Gabriel Valley than in Culver City. For example their signature dish appears to be their vegan duck, something quite familiar to people who consume vegetarian duck/goose in the San Gabriel Valley, but certainly not to Culver City locals.
Or how about vegetarian shaking beef, carved marvelously out of a giant black mushroom imported from China? Shaking beef? For the Westside crowd wouldn’t broccoli beef be something more familiar?
Vegetarian sweet and sour chicken cutlets bear no resemblance to what most people know as sweet and sour chicken, reminding me more of the house special fish dish at Seafood Palace.
Also, the choice of E Fu Mein as the main noodle dish seems out of place.
And when did I ever take a picture of a plate of white rice?
Dinner came to $25 per person. I think what the manager meant was that he couldn’t charge that much in the San Gabriel Valley but they could in the Westside. (The vegan duck was $26.) Besides the Buena Park location, restaurants in Santa Monica and Malibu are supposedly in the works. Ooak Kitchen is at 9540 Washington Blvd. in Culver City. And as you can see, the restaurant is nicely appointed.