Sunday, October 2, 2011

Okonomiyaki: Everything & the Kitchen Sink

A highly knowledgeable co-worker took us out for okonomiyaki the other night. 

Pictured: Wisdom and good taste.
It was, believe it or not, our first okonomiyaki experience.

Pictured: Inexperience and exuberance (left).

I have a theory that okonomiyaki must have been invented by a bachelor. The name itself basically means "throw whatever the heck you like on the grill." Batter? Noodles? Eggs? Scallions? Mayonnaise? Worcestershire sauce? Tomatoes? Cabbage? Seaweed? Squid? 

Inside the mind of a desperate man.
The result, like many things Japanese, is surprisingly tasty, but unlike most other Japanese food, okonomiyaki sits like a brick.

A trowel seems an appropriate tool.
When you go into an okonomiyaki place, there's a counter with a big grill like you'd see at a Japanese steak house in the US. You pick a variety - the variables are noodle type and topping - and the cooks slap it all down under a huge pancake on the grill. 

The art of the dish seems to consist of flipping it over repeatedly and staring at it with a vague look of concern. 

Also, all the eggs have two yolks. Just in case you were wondering if you should bring your appetite to the okonomiyaki joint.

BONUS: Nana and I went back for okonomiyaki this week, and we managed the whole transaction . . . in Japanese! We were even able to affirm that we'd been there before with our co-worker, who it turns out is something of a regular. Chalk up another minor victory in the long struggle to learn some of this language before we leave . . .

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