October 18, 2012

Oh My Okonomiyaki!

I licked another goal today, number 19: Eat Okonomiyaki.

Lizzy and I decided to grab dinner at a place her coworker recommended. It was an all you can eat restaurant that served amazing Okonomiyaki. I believe that translates into "what you want grilled" but a far more accurate translation would be "There's no way that's going to taste good, pancake".

The style of restaurant is very similar to Yakiniku, as each table is situated around a small grill, but differs in that most of what you cook is batter-based. We had a Lost in Translation moment when it came time to order. Our waiter's English was limited to "hello" and our collective Japanese could not piece together "Hi, we'd like the all you can eat Okonomiyaki as well as some chicken but please make sure nothing you bring us has fish in it since the blonde one doesn't eat sea food. Also, how do we cook this food?" But we were able to point and continually say chicken until he left and returned with way too much fowl. We also ended up with something really tasty but I cannot remember the name, though I'm sure it translates to "what you want slightly grilled but still a little gooey".

We had been discussing Ethiopian food earlier (standard "get to know" you topic) and were delighted to find that this style of restaurant was very similar in that you eat mainly with your hands. They also have not embraced the chop sticks or the fork, but rather some sort of chisel device, which is really only good for scraping the grill and cutting meat.

They brought us bowls of liquid and chopped vegetables and we were completely lost. Were these toppings and dressing for our pancake? I guess our faces showed the confusion as a waiter ended up coming and cooking for us. It allowed us to continue our conversation, but I did feel a little like a child, unable to cut their own food.

Here's the Okonomiyaki process:

Step 1: Look pathetic and wait for a waiter to come empty a seemingly random bowl of ingredients onto your grill.

Step 2: Be incredulous that
this pile of goop is going to both turn into a pancake and be edible.

Step 3: Amend the original thought but still be skeptical that this cabbage-patch cake is going to be savory.

Step 4: Flip, drizzle and cut. It was at this point that I began to have hope. Sure there was bacon, shrimp, cabbage and some sort of egg in this concoction, but I was told by many people how savory it was, so I was ready to try.

 Step 5: Decorate.

The final step, "enjoy", was not photographed because we were too busy being blown away with the great taste of this "what you want grilled" treat. Goal 19 had been beaten. Or rather, eaten.