My fascination with okonomiyaki started in August when I first tried it at Abeno Too in London. I had no idea what to expect, but I ordered it anyway. Watching them make it on the grill counter, just inches away, was a real treat. Eating it was even better. But when I got back home to NYC, I had a surprising amount of trouble finding a restaurant that made it fresh like that, right in front of you. Finally Jason Wyche invited me over to his place so his wife Mika could make it for me. She used an electric flat griddle and talked me through the process. But as she explained, there are two different types. The type I had in London is thick, with everything blended into the batter. Mika made a thin, flat pancake and put the ingredients on top of it. Mika’s okonomiyaki was fabulous. Last month a friend posted a photo of some he’d gotten at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in S.F. Then another friend sent me a basic recipe for inspiration. And finally, Jenny Kim bought me a bunch of the ingredients and a pair of cool, little spatulas you use to serve and cut your okonomiyaki. So I went to the market, bought the last few ingredients and decided to try making it myself. I made both the thin pancake and thick pancake versions, but I’d opt for Mika’s thin style, now that I’ve tried both. Here is a photo log of how things went. (I made bacon and shrimp versions, and these shots seem to come from both versions.)
Flipping the whole thing is the tough part, but it went surprisingly well. Mika added mochi (rice cakes) to hers, and so I did too. She called it cheese, which is reasonable since it starts out firm and then gets soft and melty. But more than anything, I think okonomiyaki is about the toppings. You have to buy the Japanese-style mayonnaise. And the bonito flakes are a lot of fun. Here is a little video of me putting everything on top before serving.
How good was it? Kind of amazing, actually.