Abeno Okonomiyaki -- London
Just returned to NYC from a nice trip to London. Had some typical English bangers and mash, and fish and chips among other things, but I was most impressed by my visit to Abeno Okonomiyaki just down the street (can't remember which) from the British Museum. They claim to be the only okonomiyaki restaurant in Europe, which is probably true, and for me, it was like a side trip to Japan. Abeno is a direct transplant from Japan, and I don't think there's a place like this in NYC ... yet. The okonomiyaki here is cooked tableside on a teppan (grill) at each table, and the servers cook your dishes for you. Eating solo, I ordered the inaka mix okonomiyaki, and for a starter, I had the pork and potatoes simmered in a miso sauce. The inaka mix contained konyaku (yam cake), corn, and pork in addition to the standard cabbage and ginger. There were about 10 other combinations and a la carte choices for your filling, plus you can get it Hiroshima style with fried noodles for just a bit more (although they don't call it Hiroshima style on the menu). I also had the oshiruko (hot azuki bean soup) dessert which they called by another name, which was also fantastic. The experience was reminiscent of okonomiyaki places in japan, and and my impressions of the quality of the food as well (even with such a brief encounter). They still seem to be working out the kinks as they are training the servers to make the ideal okonomiyaki, and the service can be a bit slow, but definitely worth it if you're looking for something besides sushi. Many of the non-Japanese clientele seemed a bit baffled by the menu, but the staff was very pleasant and eager to explain, so ask away. And enjoy.