Eating Okonomiyaki in Kyoto

Just about every waking hour of my Japan experience was enjoyable and memorable in some way or another. Even when it became time eat I was still being adventurous almost all the time. I have already covered quite a few of my gastronomical adventures when I visited Japan such as eating Hitsumabushi or barbecued eel, devouring a tub sized bowl of Ramen, my favourite – Yakitori and even easily available Japanese fast food like Yoshinoya among other things. In this post I’ll recap my Okonomiyaki experience.

about to take the first bite of Okonomiyaki

What is Okonomiyaki?

According to Wikipedia, the name “Okonomiyaki” is derived from the word okonomi which means “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”. After a long day exploring Nara, battling tricky deer, recovering from the shock of losing, then recovering my Japan rail pass and being in awe at attractions like Todaiji I retreated to Kyoto in the late evening with a stomach so empty I felt I might want to devour a meat mountain. My Japanese friend was impressed with the fact that I enjoyed Hitsumabushi and continued to tell me stories of how most of the Jamaicans that visit Japan almost never try Japanese food and instead get married to McDonalds. We searched the food court in a mall nextdoor to where we were staying (El Inn Kyoto) and after explaining what was available she encouraged me to try Okonomiyaki. The “old” me would never try something I couldn’t even pronounce properly but my empty stomach and aching feet encouraged me to go for it!

let the lightning fast mixing begin!

Unsuspecting Ninja Chef

As usual I was very impressed the setting, layout and overall ambiance of the restaurant, service was exceptional and the price of the meals were very reasonable. My Japanese friend had a lot of experience making Okonomiyaki as her mom had owned a restaurant specializing in it while she was growing up. She took over from the chef and transformed into mixing ninja. Okonomiyaki is made from all kinds of ingredients hence the “what you like” reference and I could recognize eggs, shrimp, flour, squid, ginger, cabbage and many other ingredients being tossed around and mixed together into a pancake-like mashup that smelled wonderful as it cooked on the grill built into the table we sat at.

Okonomiyaki goes through quite the transformation before it is ready to eat

Have you ever tried Okonomiyaki?

Soon the meal was ready (beer included) and while me first few bites were exploratory as I tried to save my taste buds from an unfamiliar shock I grew to like to varied tastes punctuated by different sources and toppings. Soon I was stuffed and that short walk to the restaurant didn’t seem as short anymore. Okonomiyaki like Hitsumabushi is one of those Japanese dished I couldn’t see myself eating often but on special occassions and such I’ll have to get me some more! Have you ever tried Okonomiyaki? Is yes, where? In no, Do you want to? Leave a comment below!

I am not sure if I was getting better at using chopsticks or Okonomiyaki was just more chopstick friendly
Chibo Okonomiyaki is the retaurant we ate at, kudos for great service!