“With the goal of maintaining optimum freshness, the restaurant’s chefs will assemble each hand roll to order so diners can enjoy each one at its peak. The rolls are based on carefully-chosen ingredients, starting with a special three vinegar-seasoned sushi rice cooked in small batches, high grade soy sauce, and specially-sourced seaweed that’s toasted over an open flame for the ideal crunch and texture.” - Candice Woo


“Inspired by his sushi bar in Japan, chef Junya Watanabe (RakiRaki Ramen, Pokirrito) brings his latest concept, j/wata Temaki Bar, to Kearny Mesa. The eatery will specialize in premium sushi hand rolls filled with locally sourced fish, specially harvested seaweed, exclusive craft sauces, and Watanabe’s signature sushi rice.” - Carolina Gusman

“But the biggest differences in Watanabe’s temaki are the ultra-pristine ingredients resting on fluffy three-vinegar rice, that’s made in small batches, all wrapped in hand-toasted nori sheets, which give the rolls a warm, satisfying crunch.” - Michele Parente


“The core of j/wata’s menu are “Set Menu” groupings of 3-5 temaki each, ranging from $13 to $21.75, plus various add-on roll options. What’s more, there’s not a bad roll in the bunch. Instead of making and delivering all of the rolls in an order on a single plate, the chefs at j/wata make one at a time, toasting the nori over burners, adding warm sushi rice (replaced according to a regular cycle) and fillings, and then handing each to the patron one roll at a time.” - Michael A. Gardiner


"The 1,500-square-foot space is being designed by Design OPERA, Inc. and brought to life by One of a Kind Company, who recently worked on Pali Wine Co. in Little Italy and the Gaslamp’s new Monkey King. The eatery’s 22 seats will ring a central sushi bar, with a modern and minimalist palette of grey, black, natural woods and stainless steel and some playful elements inspired by Tokyo’s iconic fish markets." - Candice Woo

"Junya Watanabe, the legendary chef of uber successful restaurants Rakiraki Ramen and Pokirrito, is about to open the doors of J/Wata, a new dining experience all about the art of the hand roll. Born in Tokyo, Watanabe just keeps giving Japanese joy to the people of San Diego, and we love him for it." - Marisa Marulli

'Restaurateur Junya Watanabe successfully ushered in the ramen, poke and sushi roll food trends and is looking to conquer premium sushi hand-rolls (temaki) next. The Convoy restaurant, next to RakiRaki and Pokirrito, will offer a maximum of 22 seats at the sushi bar and serve hand-rolls using locally sourced fish, specially harvested seaweed, sauces and signature sushi rice."  - Darleen Horn




Born in Tokyo, Japan, Junya Watanabe is the owner and executive chef of Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen in San Diego, California. Watanabe came to the United States as a teen and pursued his education at UCLA where he received a Master’s degree in Economics. Watanabe always held a keen interest in the culinary arts and had frequent cravings for ramen. After noticing that this staple Japanese dish could become a popular trend in the states, Watanabe broke into the culinary world to pursue his passion for ramen and Japanese cuisine.

Spending over six years dedicated to learning the basics of cooking, Watanabe quickly established himself as a devoted student in the culinary arts. He flew back to Japan and spent several months shadowing three of Japan's most notable ramen chefs, learning about the importance of fresh ingredients and how to fuse them together to make a distinct bowl of ramen. Since then, Watanabe has added his own signature touch to original ramen recipes along with other Japanese style foods such as curry and tsukemen. After years of apprenticeship, Watanabe brought his vision into fruition as Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opened in October 2012.

“Ramen has to be made with passion,” says Watanabe. From the meticulous detail he puts into prepping and cooking, his passion goes into every aspect of the way he runs the kitchen. During the day, you’ll find Watanabe experimenting with new and old recipes while catching up with the latest food trends. In the evenings, you’ll find him standing behind Rakiraki’s open kitchen, wearing his signature chef's jacket while meticulously adding flame-blistered toppings to each bowl of ramen.