Last week was a good week for me for two reasons; 1. one of my bosses took me out to eat Okonomiyaki for lunch and 2. my senpai hosted an okonomiyaki party in Ashikaga. Okonomiyaki was my favorite food to eat while I was living in the Kansai area, so I was so excited to have it back into my life.
Okonomiyaki, I would say is pretty similar to pizza. The name loosely translates to “as you like pancake” because you can get pretty much any topping you want on it (beef, pork, shrimp, cheese, wasabi, etc.) Okonomiyaki can be found all over Japan but depending on the region, the way it is cooked can be a little bit different.
On Monday, Hazumura-sensei took me out to Donburi, an okonomiyaki restaurant here in Sano. It was pretty big, a nice Japanese style restaurant where you had to take your shoes off at the entrance. Also for the foodies of the world it’s inexpensive, my meal alone came up to less than 1,000￥ (about $10) and that was including a drink, salad, and desert. Usually if you want okonomiyaki, you have to cook the ingredients yourself, however for the lunch menu the cooks make it for you instead.
The okonomiyaki party was a little bit more expensive mainly because it was at night so we had to get the dinner options. It was nice though, it was a bit of a walk from the station (about 20 minutes) but the food was well worth it once we started eating. It was a family run restaurant in Ashikaga, again Japanese style so you needed to remove your shoes. There was about 10 of us in the room altogether with three cooking stoves. For the dinner options we had to cook the okonomiyaki for ourselves which was an experience.
It’s much hard than it looks because you have to keep the ingredients from spreading to far apart from each other. Otherwise your pancake won’t be firm. Before the okonomiyaki we ate monjayaki, similar to okonomiyaki and it’s very popular in the Kanto region of Japan. The only difference that I really noticed was that once cooked it was a little bit sticker than Okonomiyaki and resembled string cheese when lifting it off the grill. We had six rounds of okonomiyaki to cook of different flavors, (pork, vegetable, mochi, kimchi) I was so full by the end of it I wanted to explode. After this week I don’t want any more okonomiyaki for at least a month.