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Okonomiyaki in Boston area?

  • a

Are there any Japanese restaurants in the Boston area that serve a decent, authentic rendition of okonomiyaki?

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  1. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
    Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese pan-fried batter cake with various ingredients such as Welsh onion, meat (such as bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, kimchi, mochi, and cheese.

    Unfortunately, I have never seen it in Boston.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sheila Quan

      No restaurants in the Boston area according to my wife who is Japanese. She stated you need to go to NYC to get. Or you need to go to a Japanese persons house!

      1. re: debidokun

        I had okonomiyaki at KaPow a while ago -- not sure if they still serve it. You could also try Sushi House Kiyoshi (I've heard that they serve a reasonably authentic house version of okonomiyaki) or check for okonomiyaki night at Harvard University. One of the student organizations at Harvard used to host it each spring. It which wasn't too bad but I think that they just fried some vegetables and seafood and bought the sauce and boxed mixes from Yoshinoya.

        1. re: TMaB

          Kapow closed a while ago. Too bad, it wasn't a bad little place.

          1. re: TMaB

            I had the okonomiyaki at Kiyoshi, and it was very good. It's too bad they closed about 5 years ago.

      2. e
        East Cambridge Hound

        I read somewhere, perhaps on this board about a year ago, that Okonimiyaki (which I love) is not a dish that Japanese people are especially proud of. Apparently it came into major use after the war, when life was extremely humble and people couldn't afford finer foods. As a result, it almost never shows up on menus in the states, as it is sort of a locus of shame. It's too bad, because it's wonderful. Can anyone with more knowledge speak to this?

        6 Replies
        1. re: East Cambridge Hound

          I was in Kyoto recently and okonomyaki is proudly served in small neighborhood shops. each city has its own version (different ingredients). My host explained that many Japanese eat okonomiyaki like we eat pizza -- late night munchies type food. I would not way it's served with embarrassment at all -- some people are fiercely proud of their local version and cooks will ask you if you like their version.

          1. re: willw

            Do you have any pointers on where we can get okonomiyaki in Boston?

            1. re: Allstonian

              Looks like Ebi Sushi in Union Sq Somerville might have it: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ebi-sushi-bar...

              You can buy okonomiyaki batter mix at Ebisuya.

              Ebisuya Japanese Market
              65 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

              Ebi Sushi
              290 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

              1. re: emannths

                I can confirm that Ebi has okonomoyaki, at least on the special menu. It was listed as a something-or-other pancake, but the waitress confirmed it was okonomoyaki and we ate it and it sure tasted like it.

              2. re: Allstonian

                not quite the same thing but there's the seafood pancake at Korean Garden in Allston...as i'm sure you know

                1. re: Allstonian

                  there was an okonomiyaki stand at the river festival in cambridge a few years ago

            2. I strongly suspect it's long gone, but a few years back there was a fast-food okonomiyaki *stand* in the Arsenal Mall in Watertown. Not bad (or at least comparable to the ones I ate in Japan) but made to order, every pancake took something like 20 minutes from order to plate, not exactly optimal fast food.

              1. Bon Chon Chicken in Allston offers this appetizer - Takoyaki - Fried octopus dumplings topped with bonito flakes, okonomiyaki sauce, and Japanese mayo.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nasilemak

                  Yeah, and Bon Chon has okonomiyaki on the menu, too (Maybe one of the main events for Boston in the okonomiyaki department since the 2006 post?)

                  It's not exactly a canonical/traditional one, but it's sort of a "Korean interpretation" of okonomiyaki. Basically, they give you a thinner/lighter Korean style pancake with seafood and okonomiyaki toppings, rather than the sturdy Osaka style pancake with mountain yam. We've gotten it about three times, and two of those times it was very tasty (the other time was more meh, not awful, just not thrilling).

                  It would be great to get a dedicated little spot in town with some grill tables for late night okonomiyaki and beer, especially if they would serve up variants with yakisoba in/on them, such as "Modern-yaki" (yakisoba between two thinner pancakes) or Hiroshima style (noodles and fried egg on the pancake)! It's easy to make Osaka-style (one sturdy pancake) at home, but I'm probably not alone in being too lazy to make the more complex ones for weeknight suppers...

                2. I have not ever had it there (nor have I ever actually been there!) but Toro Sushi & Grill in Allston has pork okonomiyaki on their menu. Also, there is a Japanese caterer, Okonomy, that sometimes (?) has a stand in Jamaica Plain and makes okonomiyaki. I would contact them first (http://www.okonomy.com/) to find when and where their stand is located.

                  1. I mentioned this on a post about Japanese-style hot dogs, A small place called Fei Fan Eatery has opened in the building at Beach and Harrison that previously housed the food court. It has okonomiyaki and takoyaki for sale. Not expensive but haven't tried them yet.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: gourmaniac

                      Thanks for tip. Went there today. Never seen a hot dog w shrimp on it before. Also had the okonomiyaki. Was good. I might add: only 2 or 3 tables here so expect to take out during any busy time. Deducted a star for lack of tables.

                      1. re: willw

                        plse describe them for us!what filling choices? crispy?doughy? how big? good dipping sauces? thnx much.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Big japanese style sausage ( looks like big Vienna sausage, very fine grind on filling, very mild.) And I think 14 or 15 predesigned combos with various things like seaweed, kimchi, bonito. Tonkatsu sauce etc. prob 20 options for toppings, chips, fanta, big soft bun

                          1. re: willw

                            I'm thinking OC was referring to the Okonomiyaki RE crispy vs doughy, fillings etc. I'm also curious though I'm likely to try it myself soon.
                            RE fillings, I think they only offered cabbage as a filling.

                            1. re: gourmaniac

                              Answered my own question. Okonomyaki not crisp or fluffy. Kind of soggy with too much cabbage to egg batter mix. Bonito, red ginger, nori, teriyaki suace and mayo makes for a gloop mess ($5). She will add other mix ins for a dollar more but I don;t think this is a highlight.

                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                ugh. so sorry you had to take one for the team, but plse know that we do appreciate it! hope i can do you a similar turn.

                                1. re: gourmaniac

                                  It's quite possible that this isn't a particularly good rendition, but some of what you're describing is just the nature of the dish. Okonomiyaki is neither fluffy nor especially crispy, except where you might cook some bacon slices into one side.

                                  It's a lot of shredded cabbage and maybe some other add-ins (I add some finely chopped meat such as leftover rotisserie chicken, maybe some chopped shrimp, some thinly sliced scallion, and I chop the red ginger fine and mix it in rather than using it as a topping) all bound together with an unleavened batter which is given body from some beaten egg and some grated mountain yam.

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    Thanks for the description. I know we share Toronto as a common destination so the Okonomi House (still going after 35 years) there makes a decent version where the balance is better. Versions in Japan and Korea tend to be lighter and not so gloopy and for me a well made one has a little crispiness at the edges. I think Fei Fan's version had issues with pan heat and the ratio was off for my taste and the cabbage was cut too coarsely. In fairness, I was the first customer of the day and she said it would take 15 min, so perhaps she tried to rush it (heating the oil up, etc). Also, this is simple food that benefits from many repeats as one gets in an okonomi stand at a street fair for example. Do try it and let me know what you think.

                                    1. re: gourmaniac

                                      Yes, I hope to get to Fei Fan soon to try it for myself!

                                      Okonomi House in TO was indeed my introduction to this tasty comfort food. I know from my own home-cooking experience that cutting the cabbage too coarsely is a pitfall, and that it can be challenging to manage the heat of the pan and get everything cooked all the way through. I often use savoy cabbage, which isn't standard but has a lighter texture and is a little easier to get properly cooked.

                                      (My biggest discovery is that all of those online recipes that say "it's okay if you can't get mountain yam" are full of it - it's perfectly easy to get at Russo's and my okonomiyaki is now MUCH more like the proper thing since I started adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated mountain yam to the batter.)

                                      1. re: Allstonian


                                        don't know if you use this site or have seen this but thought of you when i saw it just now.

                                        "mountain yam" -is it the same white yam as in yamakake?i've been looking for a place for it.

                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                          I was able to get 'okonomiyaki mix' at Reliable Market in Union Sq. (Somerville) the other day, it has the mountain yam, mackerel, bonito, and a bunch of other ingredients in it (including MSG). Made my best okonomiyaki to date, using the recipe from the package. I am going to go back to my recipe from a japanese cookbook I was given though and try it again soon.

                                          1. re: ColoradoXJ13

                                            yes, they sell it at the mass ave spot too.

                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                I've never had okonomiyaki I would describe as crispy OR doughy... They may call it Japanese pizza, but that's where the similarity ends for me...

                          2. Rather than being served okonomiyaki, anyone know of a place where one can make their own okonomiyaki? You may know the drill: a hot griddle, a bunch of ingredients served by the restaurant (along with beer) and, some good friends, and then you make your own. Then the argument of whether it's gloppy or not or chock-ful of cabbage or not doesn't need to occur in this forum: it occurs at the table.

                            I suspect such a venue doesn't exist around here...but I gotta ask.

                            1 Reply