For Immediate Release

Contact: Haruka Roudebush, Programs Manager,
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
1840 Sutter Street – San Francisco, CA  94115
(415) 567.5505 –

California Washoku Pop Up Meal Curated By Oji Restaurant To Benefit San Francisco Japantown Community Center

SAN FRANCISCO (March 7, 2019) – The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (the Center) in Japantown will host a special California Washoku cuisine pop up meal by chefs David Yoshimura and Casey Kusaka of Oji Restaurant on Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The pop up meal event by Oji is part of a series of pop up meals leading up to their official restaurant opening and features a tasting menu consisting of seven Washoku courses.

The menu of Oji’s California Washoku pop up meal reflects the culinary program envisioned for the future restaurant, offering a fine dining experience with Japanese Washoku cuisine as the focal point. The word Washoku in Japanese translates to “harmony of food” and is sometimes characterized as the “home cooking” of Japan. Washoku cuisine is steeped in fundamental principles that emphasize particular aspects of the food, including its color, taste, methods of preparation, senses invoked, and finally, respect for the food itself. The restaurant’s focus on Washoku style is an homage to the owners’ Japanese American heritage, with the added intent of creating a modern, Californian interpretation to the cuisine.  Oji hopes to appeal to the adaptive tastes of Bay Area diners with a tasting menu crafted to incorporate the best ingredients from their network of high-end local farms, fish purveyors and ranches. The restaurant’s beverage program will also include a meticulously curated list of iconic wines and sake to both complement and enhance the California Washoku experience. Chef and certified sommelier David Yoshimura explains, “The end goal is to open the first tasting menu Japanese restaurant not focused on sushi.”

Both Oji’s owners, Chef David Yoshimura and General Manager Casey Kusaka, bring to the table not only passion and talent, but the honed expertise and sensibilities that only hours in the kitchens of Michelin-rated restaurants can provide.

David is originally from Houston, Texas, where he inherited his passion for food from his mother. Upon completing training at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, David staged abroad at notable restaurants including Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo and Asador Etxebarri in Spain. After returning to New York City, he worked at wd~50 until the restaurant’s closure, then followed up by joining the team at Californios in San Francisco, helping them obtain their first Michelin star within six months. David is currently Chef de Cuisine at the now two Michelin star-rated Californios.

Casey was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where family gatherings centered around food drove his early passion for food and beverage. Casey also studied at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked his way up the ranks in the kitchens of celebrity chef David Chang at Momofuku Noodle Bar, then transitioned to the service side of the industry at the one Michelin-starred Lincoln Ristorante. Casey later returned to the Momofuku food group as captain of their two-Michelin star location Momofuku Ko. After fulfilling his need for restaurant experience in New York City, Casey moved to San Francisco, where he currently works with David at Californios as the General Manager. Casey’s hope with the opening of Oji is to provide “something that truly speaks to my personal experience and to be able to share it with my guests.”

While Oji Restaurant’s Washoku cuisine pays respects to David and Casey’s roots, their decision to collaborate with the Center in San Francisco Japantown to host their pop up demonstrates their commitment to support the local community and spaces dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of Japanese and Japanese American culture. Since relocating to San Francisco, David and Casey have both also regularly volunteered their time at the Center through Kimochi Inc. senior service organization’s weekday meal program for seniors. Proceeds from ticket sales will be generously donated by Oji directly to the Center to support its ongoing programs and activities serving San Francisco’s Japantown community and beyond.

Tickets for the seven-course California Washoku pop up meal are $65 for Center members and $80 for the general public, and can be purchased in person at the Center or online at: Seating is limited to the first 40 individuals. For more information on Oji, please visit:


About the Center

Envisioned by the Japanese American community, the Center will be an everlasting foundation of our Japanese American ancestry, cultural heritage, histories and traditions. The Center strives to meet the evolving needs of the Japanese American community through programs, affordable services and facility usage. The Center is a non-profit community center based in San Francisco Japantown.