In recent years, Old Towne Orange, a neighborhood known for its local businesses, has become an area for up-and-coming restaurants. Two weeks ago, Ojai Burger joined the bustling community plaza at 238 W. Chapman Avenue sharing its blend of American classics and Japanese flavors in a space previously occupied by Buttermilk Chicken.
Former tennis coach-turned-cook Takeshi Ozaki and his wife Chikage started the burger restaurant under the name Yume Japanese Burger Cafe in May 2021 in Ojai, where the sandwiches and burgers caught the attention of a group of friends who were vacationing with their families.
Carl Tong, a co-founder of Miyabi Uni in Torrance, was sold on the Ozaki’s cooking after taking a bite of the karaage chicken sandwich. Noticing a gap in the dining scene for Asian-influenced burgers, Tong and his friends approached the Ozakis for a rebrand and partnership. The move reflects one that Sugarfish co-founder Jerry Greenberg made with HiHo Cheeseburger, another Ojai burger spot that has since expanded in numerous LA locations (the Ojai original has since closed). For Ojai Burger, a group of friends and business partners, including Kasper Hsu, and Pokeworks founders Peter Yang and Michael Wu, selected Orange as Ojai Burger’s first location.
Ojai Burger’s offerings are a pared-down version of Yume’s original menu, featuring high-quality ingredients and Japanese influences in its burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and other starters, drinks, and desserts. The burgers are all made with marinated wagyu beef patties, while chicken thighs are given the fried karaage treatment, lending a juiciness to each sizable serving. Diners on a meatless regimen may substitute sandwiches with an Impossible brand patty. Additional components include fresh brioche buns, signature sauces, shredded lettuce, Kewpie mayo, and the occasional fried egg.
Fully loaded fries are topped in a fashion similar to the sandwiches, while additional snacks include traditional takoyaki and croquettes. Creamy shakes in flavors such as cookies and cream, berries, matcha, and ube are a welcome addition to the beverage menu; the last two flavors are also featured in Ojai Burger’s chewy mochi waffles.
The fast-casual spot not only shares a people-watching patio with adjacent Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, but is within walking distance to the sole multi-deck, free parking structure serving Old Towne. Ojai Burger is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. daily to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.