Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki Stalls at Nihonmachi Street Fest [San Francisco]
I stopped by the Nihonmachi Street Fair today (it continues tomorrow) not expecting to find anything exciting food-wise. I was pleasantly surprised to find, side-by-side, Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki specialists from L.A. in the Webster Street food court. I couldn't get past the takoyaki booth, TakoNoTa from Lomita without sampling their excellent takoyaki, made the old-fashioned way, 8 pieces of hot-from-the-takoyaki-form (whatever they call it), each with a nice healthy-sized chunk of octopus, for $5. They had several varieties (jalapeno, wasabi, etc.) but I went to for the "original" (traditional) style.
Right beside it was Okonomiyaki vendor Gaja Okonomiyaki from Lomita, one of the few okonomiyaki specialists anywhere. They had several sytles of okonomiyaki. I didn't indulge, as I hadn't really planned on eating at that time, and God knows how filling those things can be. I may return tomorrow with an appetite.
Thanks for the head's up. Today I ordered the $8 combo from Gaja: fried squid legs + okonomiyaki (veggie, cheese or curry). The veggie is the base for all three. The curry sauce boxes were S&B. I watched the guys at the grill to see how they were cooking them. They turn them a couple times until barely golden on a few spots. The standard garnish is tonkatsu sauce. I asked what else was available . . . katsuoboshi and nori by request, and mayo and sriracha in squeeze bottles for self serve.
I ordered mine extra crispy and stood by the grill while it was cooking. After being flipped once, some shredded cheese (mix of jack and cheddar) in spread on top and allowed to melt a little, then flipped over to brown on the grill.
The tri-opening tip on the mayo squeeze bottle was plugged, so only had two streams to play around with instead of three. I was glad I ordered extra crispy as this had a good amount of gooey mountain yam in it and would have been too wet for me otherwise.
Okonomiyaki: August 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Dish of the Month,
Great find! Such an upgrade from the impostor beef takoyaki during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
We ordered one traditional and one wasabi. I didn't realize until our order came that the takoyakis are all the same - it's just the mayo flavor and toppings are slightly different. The traditional had regular mayo and bonito flakes while the wasabi had green mayo (with a good wasabi kick) and seaweed shavings.
We asked if they would come back for future festivals. They said yes, and there should be a schedule on the website or Facebook. However, I just visited those pages and saw no recent announcements for the Nihonmachi fair, so not sure how likely it is to find out in advance. Hopefully those who missed it this past weekend can try again!