I am on a mission to civilize. Culinary speaking. So it is always exciting to introduce people to new foods – exciting being the middle name of Japanese food. Just think of all the wonderful things that maybe seemed yuck at first: sushi, sashimi (I mean really, who eats raw fish?), umeboshi, mochi…
Actually, thinking of all the weirdness that Japan offers, okonomiyaki doesn’t seem all that exciting. This is a savoury pancake (literally meaning “what you want, fried”) that gets cooked right in front of you on that hot metal plate that you can see in the pictures (not the safest place to put your hand or other bodily parts). The prices are typically above 10 £ and around that price for the Deluxe version, coming closer to 15 £ for the Super Deluxe.
There is something quite beautiful about a bowl full of raw ingredients – which is presented to you before they start mixing them into a less attractive paste. In my experience in Japan, you would be doing everything yourself. Similar to Korean BBQ, okonomiyaki is very often a much more sociable eating experience. That and there’s a lot of heat, so you take off clothes and everything is that tiny bit more intimate.
The base at Abeno Too is generally with cabbage and egg, and you have an option to add meat, prawns, onions etc. They also serve other things, from starters (miso soup) to fried noodles, but then, why did you come to this place?
You then have a selection of sauces to add onto it. There’s the classic okonomiyaki sauce that goes round and round (like the picture), sweet chilli sauce, Japanese mayo, fish flakes. There is no end to the wonder. As far as taste goes, well, it’s really not that complicated to just mix things up and fry them so don’t expect anything mind blowing.