Okonomiyaki is sort of like a Japanese pancake. The place in Kyoto where we tried this one described it as a Japanese pizza. I think that's going too far, but pancake is not such a bad comparison. It's a sort of thick vegetable, pancake cross, doused in thick sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. Just imagine a hot doorstopper battercake chock full of tasty fillings. Lucas made one a few months ago, but didn't include the recipe. Pretty photo though. :-)
Apparently Osaka is *the* place for Okonomiyaki, but Lucas knew of 2 places in Kyoto that made excellent versions. The place we ended up, on a bitterly cold, windy winter's afternoon had BBQ plates built into everyone's table. As you can imagine, we spent the first 10 minutes warming our chilled fingers over the burning hot plate. I think that's the best way to get chilblains, although to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what chilblains are. They were always something that appeared in the Enid Blyton books I read.
Okonomiyaki basically means "as you like it" "whatever you like", or words to that effect. It's a collection of ingredients bound with some egg and flour and fried on a hot plate. Today it would be very difficult to find an okonomiyaki that wasn't filled mainly with cabbage to provide the bulk. That's ok; I like cabbage, but man, I was creating some smells on the train trip home! It's often sold on the streets in Osaka as a hot snack food, ready to go with no choice of fillings, but our restaurant allowed us to choose what we wanted in it.
The basic ingredients are cabbage, flour and eggs, and the rest depends on your okonomi, i.e. "your taste." We chose 2 versions; one with pork and beef and one with prawns and an extra egg cracked on top, along with a side order of yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles).
It was a cold day and we were having a late lunch, so I was famished. Therefore I was a little concerned at the size of the two okonomiyaki. We had already demolished our steaming yakisoba (below) in about 10 seconds and we hungrily eyeing off the pancakes.
Yaskisoba - a tasty snack for cold, hungry people
The only problem with going out for okonomiyake, as opposed to grabbing one from a street vendor is the fact that they take so damn long to cook. You should have seen our eyes boring into the things willing them to hurry up. They're very thick, so it takes a good 10 minutes before your personal okonomiyaki flipper comes over to check it they're right to turn over. Even after they've flipped them and let them cook another 10 minutes, the still need another flipping and then the application of the mayonnaise, thick sweet/salty sauce and bonito (fish) flakes. I tell you, when we were finally allowed to dig in, we were like cavemen.
Although the two we ordered weren't too big, and still had me worried they wouldn't be enough (I reckoned at that stage I could have eaten 2 on my own) they are deceptively filling. 2 of them plus a serving of yakisoba was definitely enough for 3 hungry people.
Apparently there's a place in Melbourne that does lunchtime okonomiyakis, so I'm looking forward to a report from my other travelling companion who works in the CBD and has developed quite a yearning for these tasty things.
Okonomiyaki topped with sauces, a few seconds before we attacked it. I think I had to forcibly fight off everyone's chopsticks to get this shot!