Okamoto Kitchen Truck Brings Authentic Japanese Comfort Food To Streets Of L.A.
Ever since the rise of the Kogi Truck, there haven't been many exciting rumblings in the food truck world. But at only four-months old, Okamoto Kitchen—the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Chizuru and Gerald Abraham—may just be the next big thing. The Abrahams are on a mission to introduce lesser-known, authentic Japanese dishes such as chicken nanban, cheese mochi and classic-style (oofu) Japanese curry to the masses.
And it's not just their food that stands out. Their bright red truck has a giant-sized, Akiba-style (a district in Tokyo known to be a video game, manga and anime haven) anime character is emblazoned across its side. The truck has anime videos explaining their dishes and their menu looks like it's straight out of a video game. The larger-than-life design makes sense given that the Okamoto Kitchen staff all are or have been pro gamers and are into anime culture.
Chizuru, the chef of the team who was born and raised in Japan, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and even studied under chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Gerald's obsession with anime and Japanese culture prompted his move to Japan where he became fluent in the language and met his wife. Together, they decided to bring their love of Japanese food and culture to Gerald's hometown of Los Angeles. "When we conceived the Okamoto Kitchen truck we knew we wanted a food truck where customers could be offered made-to-order meals instead of pre-packaged foods made elsewhere, earlier," Chizuru tells LAist. "We really wanted to focus on quality ingredients and a quality experience, just like how it is in Japan."
Chizuru's dishes are all about comfort food that the mainstream food world is not familiar with. "I wouldn't say it is so much of a fusion as much as an updated and modernized version of the dishes. It's all Japanese food, but presented in a different way," Gerald tells LAist.
Their most popular dish ‘The Nom Bomb’ is a great example of this. Nom Bomb, which is a play on nanban, is a word that was used to refer to westerners arriving in Japan from the South. The dish was influenced by the European settlers that were in Japan at the time and originated in the Miyazaki prefecture in the mid 1900s. Okamoto Kitchen's version of this dish remains true to the original except that the original is a fork-and-knife dish with rice. The updated version is easier to eat from a food truck. Chizuru made it into a sandwich and added slices of jalapeño for a touch of spice, and created a tofu option for vegetarians.
Another unique dish Okatomo Kitchen does is cheese mochi sticks, which is a spin on the classic mochi, cheese, and nori (seaweed) dish. Rather than putting the cheese on top and grilling it, Chizuru infuses it and bakes it. There's also the oofu-style Japanese curry that is topped with gouda cheese. Originally introduced to Japan by the British Navy, Chizuru's version adds a touch of flour and features rich flavors from the veal stock.
And don't forget karage, the Japanese-style fried chicken made with a soy-based marinade. Unlike the American-style fried chicken, Japanese fried chicken is light and crispy. It's juicy and crispy when hot, and still succulent when cold. Chiruzu doesn't skip out on dessert, either. Her menu features five decadent Japanese parfaits that including unique flavors like Coffee Jelly, Miso Chocolate Brownie, and Green Tea with Chocolate Pocky sticks.
"Rather than just doing more bowls, sushi, takoyaki, okonomiyaki—stuff that's already been done and done well at other places—we want to introduce Japanese flavors that people are and aren't familiar with in new ways," Gerald says.
The Okamoto Kitchen truck makes stops throughout Los Angeles and participates in many anime conventions and food festivals. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, on for their weekly scheduled stops.