Okonomiyaki is one of the Japanese specialities that we’d suspected would pass us by, due to the fact that it’s a pancake and unlikely to be veganised. Dr HH was excited to try it while we were in Osaka, but was a bit unimpressed with the results. So when we saw a restaurant listed on Happy Cow that specialised in okonomiyaki, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it another chance.
This was a small, very local spot (we were the only tourists), but it had an English menu with the encouraging words: “No meat, no eggs, no problem!” I had a little card with me explaining in Japanese what we do and do not eat – I showed it to the chef and he enthusiastically pointed out which dishes we could have: fresh tofu (not fried), and the pancake with vegetables with either soba or udon noodles.
We sat at a bar around the kitchen area, and the food was cooked on the hot, metal surface right in front of us, which was very dramatic and exciting! Our dishes were cooked on the same surface where the meaty dishes had been cooked moments before, but we saw them give it a good scrub down first so I felt perfectly comfortable with it.
Truthfully, I was quite disappointed to learn that the fried tofu couldn’t be made vegan, but I needn’t have worried – the fresh block was absolutely delicious! The dressing was simple but effective. Honestly, we had some of the all time great tofu while we were in Japan.
And onto the main event! Dr HH ordered the soba version – the noodles on top crisped up beautifully, giving it some nice texture and shape. There was significantly less sauce than he had in Slices, which had to be a good thing too! We ate these dishes straight off the hot surface using a small shovel – we were quite relieved that some locals were served before us so we could imitate them rather than embarrass ourselves by just guessing how to tackle it.
I ordered the udon version, and it pains me to say it but the udon let me down! Udon noodles just weren’t a good match for this dish. They were heavy, wet, and overwhelming, and made the whole thing a bit sloppy and un-pancake-like. It was still tasty of course, but I’d definitely recommend getting the soba version if you visit.
This was one of the more exciting eateries we visited on our trip, and it was an experience we’ll probably never get again! Sometimes trying Japanese food was a little daunting as we didn’t know the correct way to approach a dish and worried about looking foolish, but this was a fun, friendly place and we were happy to get stuck in!
Do you also worry about eating foreign foods in the wrong way and making a fool of yourself? Have you tried okonomiyaki?
The only okonomiyaki I’ve had are the ones I’ve made myself but I do love it!
Ah, if you have a good recipe please point me in the right direction, I’d love to give it a try at home!
I can’t find the one I used to use but having a quick Google looks like there are plenty about
That seems like fun! I held chopsticks wrong for YEARS before my Taiwanese roommate pointed out that I was handling them all wrong–and wouldn’t you know, they’re easier to use if you do it right.
I’ve had so many people try to correct my chopstick usage over the years, and I just don’t get it – I have very poor coordination. As long as I can get the food from the dish to my mouth, I don’t care!
haha my sister asked her Chinese friend to teach her how to use chopsticks, and her friend told her that her mother just let her and her brother teach themselves how to use chopsticks, so even though she used them all her life, she didn’t actually use them properly lol
I would 100% have gone for the udon too — shame it doesn’t quite work in okonomiyaki! Still, what a great experience.
I never really think about eating something wrong, but then again, it totally can happen lol