Found in Phoenix: Real Okonomiyaki

One of my favorite Japanese dishes has been far too elusive in Phoenix.

It's a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, and it literally means "cooked as you like."

In Japan, there are entire restaurants devoted to it in the same way that there are ramen shops, sushi bars, or shabu-shabu restaurants. Often, it's a DIY dining experience, where you order up what you want in it (hence the name), and they bring you a bowl filled with the ingredients (fillings could include pork, seafood, veggies, you name it, all mixed in batter.) You stir it yourself, fry it on a tabletop griddle, and dress it up with toppings like pickled ginger, katsuo bushi (dried shaved bonito), tangy sauce (like tonkatsu sauce) and Kewpie mayonnaise (ultra-creamy Japanese mayo).

Here, Hana Japanese Eatery recently started featuring it, and I was eager to get a taste. I've made it at home too many times to count, but still wanted to try their version.

It was good -- and huge! Probably best to share it as an app with friends, because all that batter just expands in your stomach with every sip of green tea. Mine did not come topped with the bonito shavings, and I would've preferred it sloppier with more sauce and mayo, but the kitchen was happy to accomodate a request for more toppings.

Good stuff. Next time, I think I'll bring some cold beer to go with it.


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