PICTURED: General Tso’s chicken garnished with sesame seeds.

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Saku Asian Kitchen
450 South B St., Oxnard

If you love Asian food but can’t decide between the numerous options in Ventura County, allow me to recommend Saku Asian Kitchen in downtown Oxnard. With noodle soups, tempura, rice, bento boxes, bubble tea, bulgogi and more, it offers a culinary tour through China, Japan and Korea — all of it quite tasty, and surprisingly affordable. It was also accessible: The restaurant doesn’t deliver itself, but if you don’t feel like driving there for pickup, you can easily order off the menu through Grubhub.

We recently tried this decades-old restaurant (around since 2000) for a Pan-Asian weekday dinner. Our order included the vegetarian ramen (for something a little simple), chicken and shrimp teriyaki (for that sweet-salty glaze), General Tso’s chicken (for spice), shrimp tempura (for crunch) and fried dumplings (always a crowd pleaser). 

While this was not the lightest meal we’ve ever had, it absolutely delivered on the flavor. 

The General Tso’s Chicken was beautifully presented, with tender hunks of battered and fried chicken coated in a thick sauce and topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This has never been a dish for calorie counters, but Saku’s version is particularly rich and oily, even by typical General Tso standards. Very tasty (although not too spicy, which was disappointing), but kind of heavy, even with the steamed broccoli and rice. Be warned.

The shrimp tempura was gorgeous: Large prawns in a crispy egg batter, fried to a golden brown. Absolutely perfect and, surprisingly, not even a little soggy after delivery. Same with the fried dumplings, which were filled with a fragrant mix of ground chicken, scallions and ginger. The crunchy texture was indeed satisfying, but I think I prefer the softer, pan-fried version.

The teriyaki was another flavor-packed dish. What seemed like an endless amount of chicken and shrimp was well prepared but practically swimming in glaze. Good, but maybe a bit much. The steamed vegetables on the side were a nice contrast.

After so much fried and sauced food (what was I thinking?), the ramen was a refreshingly light option. Mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn, bean sprouts, noodles and tofu with plenty of broth. Made from slow-cooked vegetables, the broth was savory and earthy but wonderfully delicate. More of this would have been a good idea — and with numerous versions of ramen on the menu, a more balanced meal was absolutely an option.

That’s a good rule of thumb when ordering from Saku: No matter what you select, you’re getting a lot: lots of flavor, lots of oil, lots of ingredients, lots of options. Heavy or light, meat or veg, Chinese, Japanese or Korean, the choice is yours. Embrace it!