After a long day walking around Tokyo, I stumbled upon this Okonomiyaki restaurant. Oko.no.mi.ya.ki. it’s a mouthful and it’s a common and favorite dish among Japanese people- so learn how to say it. I would say it’s a type of fast food, although I wouldn’t consider it to be”fast” because we waited for half an hour to be seated. This is because Okonomiyaki is a fun and social dish, meant to be shared with friends. And especially on a Friday night, everyone was out celebrating the end of the week. After the unexpected long wait, we were seated next to a group of businessmen who were kickin’ back with a glass of cold beer, and enthusiastically eating from the hot plate on their tables. The built-in hot plates were just hot enough to keep the food warm, but not hot enough to cook anything on. We watched as waiters carried varieties of these cabbage pancakes over from the open kitchen and transferred them onto people’s tables.
While waiting to be seated, I watched the chef make dish after dish and began to wonder how many people the restaurant seated. The number of dishes that were leaving the kitchen didn’t seem to match up with the number of customers that were at the restaurant and it seemed as if the dishes were either falling into an abyss, or feeding people with an insatiable appetite. What I realized when I finished my first round was how addicting Okonomiyaki is, and how easy it was to keep ordering more.
Okonomi means “as you like it” in Japanese. The concept of the dish is similar to a pancake or pizza. It starts off as a thin layer of batter, (thin enough to be a crepe) then it’s topped with shredded cabbage and any topping that you desire. Common toppings include: bacon, eggs, seafood, meats and bean sprouts. I couldn’t resist the cheese topping, which put a “pizza-esque” spin on this Japanese dish for me.
After the toppings are added, another layer of batter is slathered on top and then the Okonomiyaki is flipped and cooked until slightly browned. Lastly, mayonnaise and/or Okonomiyaki sauce (a dark, brown, sweet and umami sauce) dresses the dish, and usually Bonito shavings are sprinkled on top to finish it off. This is a light meal that is mostly made up of vegetables, which could be another reason why we were endlessly ordering more.
Kobe Gyunta Okonomiyaki
Ginza Mitsukoshi Building