Friday, January 8, 2016

Foodie Friday: Okonomiyaki

Before going to Japan, Ninin and I discussed all the food opportunities we would get to experience going to Japan. Sushi, ramen, udon, karaage (fried chicken), mochi and ice cream all came up but one item landed really high on both our lists: okonomiyaki! Okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese pancake not experienced much outside of Japan and even in Japan, it's a local delicacy in the Kansai and Hiroshima regions. It can be filled with almost anything which is why it's called okonomiyaki which means "as you like" when translated. So it was the perfect food to experience when a carnivore and vegetarian are eating dinner together. When Ninin and I planned our trip, we planned to land in Kansai airport and our first city to explore would be Osaka, the heart of okonomiyaki country!

We landed dinner time at Kansai airport and were hingry, so we decided that we might as well indulge our okonomiyaki craving ASAP at Botejyu located right in the airport! I had the wagyu beef okonomiyaki and Ninin ordered the tomato and cheese.  The servings were on the large side as mine filled me up and Ninin couldn't completely finish hers and enlisted me to help....HAHAHA

Wagyu Beef Okonomiyaki

Cheese and Tomato Okonomiyaki
Our first experience with okonomiyaki was so good we had to have it again, and the next night exploring the Dotonbori area of Osaka provided us an excellent opportunity to eat at the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recommended Mizuno restaurant. The Michelin Bib Gourmand is meant to highlight restaurants that offer exceptional food at moderate prices which is exactly what Mizuno delivered! One of the coolest things that you can do at Mizuno is sit at the bar in front of the grill where they cook your okonomiyaki right in front of you. The bar is small and only seats 8-9 people which lead to Ninin and I waiting in line for 30 minutes despite arriving a little past 6 pm which is earlier than the dinner rush. They were also very accommodating when Ninin informed them she was a vegetarian and after asking her what she liked and could and couldn't eat, created an okonomiyaki that was just for her and not on the menu with the main filling being mushrooms and noodles. I have their special okonomiyaki which had basically all their fillings including the 6 meats/seafood fillings they offer.

The view of our okonomiyaki being made at Mizuno
Almost ready....
Time to eat! The Mizuno special on the left (mine) and Ninin's custom okonomiyaki on the right)
Our last okonomiyaki experience in Japan was during our last night in Kyoto. It had been a few days since Ninin and I had eaten okonomiyaki and we were going through withdrawal. Good thing Kyoto has it's fair share of good okonomiyaki spots, and Nishiki Warai was the place where we got our last hit of okonomiyaki. Our third okonomiyaki place and another new experience with how we ate it. At Nishiki Warai, you're seated at a table with a hot flat grill in the center. But instead of watching someone cook it, they bring out almost cooked okonomiyaki and let it finish cooking in front of you. You can also customize your toppings with different types and amount of sauce and seaweed on top.  The okonomiyaki remains on the flat top while you eat ensuring that every bite was hot and fresh. After the day exploring Kyoto, we were a little hungry and decided to order an appetizer with our okonomiyaki. The appetizer was a thin sheet of fried tofu topped with leeks (also served on the hot grill) and was a delicious warm-up before receiving our double pork and warai special okonomiyaki.

Ninin warming up her saucing skills
Fried tofu topped with leeks appetizer
Warai special okonomikyai (left) and the double pork okonoiyaki (right)
Related Posts:

Foodie Friday: Okonomiyaki
NinJay in Japan: NinJay in Japan
Osaka - Best of Osaka
Nara: Nara in a Day
Kyoto: Left my heart in Kyoto
Nagoya: Twinkling Lights in Nagoya
Hakone: Art and Nature in Hakone
Tokyo: Tokyo Highlights
Beauty: Japanese Beauty Haul

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