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Okonomiyaki

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  • jman1 Jul 3, 2011 12:40 PM
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Perhaps I'll return (haven't been in 5+ years). And, haven't eaten okonomiyaki in almost that amount of time. A quick Yelp search reveals many places now offering it. Genki and Mifuni Don get pretty good reviews. Intrigued by Delica as well. If anyone has a report from one of those places, would like to see it here.

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Delica
1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I'd especially love to find a noodle okonomiyaki (Hiroshima style?). Please report back if you find any.

    Izumiya's isn't perfect, but it satisfies a very specific type of craving.

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    Izumiya
    1581 Webster St Ste 270, San Francisco, CA 94115

    12 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      modern yaki?

      1. re: jman1

        It's a traditional dish, I think--kind of like a noodle pizza.
        http://japanesefood.about.com/od/holi...

        Not that it wouldn't be fun to put a modern spin on it.

        1. re: Windy

          OK, guess it's something different. I was last in Japan 20 years ago, and okonomiyaki with a layer of yaki soba was called "Modern Yaki". Looking on the web, I see that Hiroshima style might be somewhat different. I didn't try okonomiyaki in Hiroshima (only in Nara and Kobe).

          BTW, I don't think that okonomiyaki of any sort would be considered traditional. I think it's a post WWII dish influenced by the US occupation.

          1. re: jman1

            Ha--always good to learn some food history.

            I was thinking it was kind of like chow mein or fried rice or chilaquiles: leftovers.

            1. re: Windy

              I just read up to check. Found a page that suggests it was invented just before the war and became popular during the war years when rice was short. However, a key ingredient (mayonnaise) was not added until the occupation years.

              http://okonomiyakiworld.com/Okonomiya...

              BTW, both places that I visited where of the cook it yourself variety. The servers came out with the batter and ingredients and we sat around a low teppan grill table. The servers started things off and perhaps help us out a bit more than usual, and the Japanese in our group took over from there.

              I never tried the modern yaki, but an American friend living in Japan mentioned that it was something he liked.

              1. re: jman1

                And, to tie it in to the original topic, okonomiyaki isn't something that I would expect to find on a izakaya menu. Am I wrong?

                Seems that okonomiyaki was sold at specialty shops that did only that. I think that I recall seeing it sometimes on the Deny's style coffee shop places such as Skylark (but one didn't expect a great version there). Yeah, my friend living in Japan at the time spent too much time at those sort of places.

                1. re: jman1

                  Doesn't seem like much of a drinking food, if you're supposed to be trusted to cook it yourself. It's comfort food.

                  All the izakayas in SF the past few years have been pretty upscale. Is that true in Japan too?

                  The only fancy meals I ate in Japan were at my hotel.

                  1. re: Windy

                    I got the impression is was a beer food in Japan. It seemed to occupy the same cultural space as a pizza parlor in the USA; hang out with your buddies and drink some beer, etc. Back when nobody knew what it was, I used to describe okonomiyaki as a cross between a pancake, a pizza and an omelet (or Spanish tortilla). The pizza reference was include more for cultural implications.

                    I am certain that there are upscale izakaya in Japan these days. Traditionally, it was just the opposite. They were inexpensive places for the guys (now women go more often) to have a drink and some snacks after work. Many where small places with counter seating. Similar to a neighborhood tapas bar in Spain (where there are now fancy varieties as well).

                    Some of the more infamous Japanese curmudgeons on Yelp refuse to rate any of the fancier places well due to their expectations. I assume that the economics are different enough to not support a more traditional izakaya (or tapas bar) in the States.

                    The feel of a whole in the wall Izakaya might be closest to Tekka in SF. Although, there are certainly many larger Izakaya as well.

                    1. re: jman1

                      http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1323/A132...

                      From a Japanese Yelp-like food review website. The above appears to be a fairly typical neighborhood izakaya (non-fancy place). I don't read Japanese.

                      1. re: jman1

                        That looks a lot like Tekka, although a few more seats. Which reminds me I haven't been there lately since the son got involved.

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                        Tekka Japanese
                        537 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                        1. re: Windy

                          Just posting because I like the photo. I stumbled upon this while search "hama yaki":

                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/efm_japa...

                          Not exactly an izakaya. It's a grill it at your table place. But, you get the idea of the informal nature. Also, looks like everyone is drinking beer there. There are 4 photos.

                          There are a lot of places like this in Japan, but they don't really transfer to the US.

                          BTW, there's a fairly recent English language book about Izakaya food with lots of photos. Not really a cook book, but that's how it's categorized.

                          http://www.izakayanights.com/Site/Wel...

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                          Izakaya Restaurant
                          1335 N 1st St, San Jose, CA 95112

                  2. re: jman1

                    Don't know whether it's proper or not, but the first time I had it was at an Izakaya in Tokyo.

      2. Okonomiyaki is supposed to be an inexpensive food.. delicious.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jason carey

          Dave Cook of eatingintranslation.com likes to call it "economyaki."

        2. Namu does a pretty good one.

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          Namu
          439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

          1. I've only been to one grill-your-own okonomiyaki place in the U.S.and that's Gaja in Lomita (Los Angeles area).

            If you are in the South Bay/Peninsula:

            Yume-ya, Tanto (both Sunnyvale), En (Santa Clara), Gokaku (Cupertino), Hoshi (Santa Clara) serve good renditions of Osaka-style Okonomiyaki.

            Gochi (Cupertino) serves Okonomiyaki-style Fusion Pizza as a special occasionally.

            You can get Okonomiyaki in the deli/sushi section of many Japanese grocery stores -- Nijiya and Mitsuwa both carry it. (They are ok, but it is hard to get reheated Okonomiyaki to taste right).

            If you are looking for the feel of a hole-in-the-wall izakaya place, I think Hoshi, Gokaku and Yume-ya will fit the bill with Hoshi feeling more like the picture below, with the caveat that they all also have sushi bars.

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            Hoshi
            246 Saratoga Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

            Mitsuwa
            675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

            Gokaku
            10789 S Blaney Ave, Cupertino, CA 95014

            2 Replies
            1. re: mhuang

              Agreed with the one sold as pre made one's at Mitsuwa.
              scarmoza can you please elaborate what style is the Namu Okonomi? Kansai or Hiroshima?

              1. re: elvisahmed

                Like everything else that Namu does, it's their own (california-korean-japanese) style: kimchee, ground beef, cabbage, scallion, yolk, kewpie, bonito flakes. At their restaurant, it's served on a large hot flat skillet (so the bottom continues to cook a bit more at the table). It's a rather large serving for one and might be better for two, if you order appetizers and/or sides.

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                Namu
                439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

            2. Majikku has several on the menu.

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              Majikku Ramen
              248 Skyline Plaza, Daly City, CA 94015

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I think Magic also has Takoyaki...if you need to satisfy that fried fever.

              2. I loved the (not very traditional) okonomiyaki at Bushido, in Mountain View. Everything else we ordered at the restaurant was fair to middling, but the smoked pork belly in the okonomiyaki put it over the top.

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                Bushido
                156 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                1 Reply
                1. re: abstractpoet

                  eye eye to that. The smoked pork belly okonomiyaki is the only solid order there - and it's worth a trip.