Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
35Trip End Nov 18, 2010
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There are two main styles: Hiroshima-style and Osaka-style. Hiroshima-style contains noodles and extra cabbage. The first time I had them, I ate Hiroshima-style. This time the shop I went to happened to serve Osaka-style.
There was another big difference between this time and my previous trip. The restaurant I chose today happened to be "grill your own"
To start with, there's a cup of oil and a brush at the end of the table that you use to grease-down the griddle. Then, while the griddle is heating, you are given a bowl of ingredients. They came pre-mixed except for an egg in the middle, which I was told to mix in (I think the technical term is "fold in") with the rest. When that was done, it was time to dump the whole thing on the grill.
The first side of the okonomiyaki seemed to take a long time to cook, at least several minutes. However, that could have also been because I was hungry, or because I was self-conscious with the shop owner watching me do it. It may not actually have taken that long. When cook said it was ready, he gave me two large spatulas. After loosening it from the griddle, I put the two spatulas under opposite sides of the okonomiyaki and flipped it (thankfully, without incident).
The final steps of preparing the okonomiyaki were to brush it with healthy quantities of a sticky brown sauce, sprinkle what I assume were some sort of dried sea-creature flakes on top of that, and add in a few more green flakes of possibly sea weed. One of the flipping spatulas was used to cut it into slices. According to the shop owner, in Tokyo, the slices are eaten with chopsticks. In Osaka, people eat the okonomiyaki using a medium-sized spatula. I tried chopsticks for a bit, then switched to Osaka-style for efficiency.
The owner was very friendly. We chatted through the little Japanese I know while the okonomiyaki was cooking. I told him it was my first time having okonomiyaki, because I didn't speak Japanese well enough to explain that, actually I had eaten it before, but this was my first time at a cook-your-own place. He asked me if I'd tried monjayaki, which I hadn't, so he brought out a new bowl for me to grill.
The second bowl contained the ingredients for monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き). Monjayaki is the Tokyo response to okonomiyaki, and it's a apparently a watery okonomiyaki.
The cooking method was different than that used for the okonomiyaki. For starters, there was no egg to mix in. Also, you don't just dump the bowl onto the grill. You scoop-out the solid ingredients and use them to form a ring on the grill. When that's done, you dump the liquid that remains in the bowl into the center of the ring.
Eating the monjayaki was also different. Instead of waiting for it to cook through and flipping it like a pancake, you move it periodically from one side of the grill to the other. As you drag it, bits of browned mojayaki are left stuck to the griddle. You scrape these browned bits up with a tiny spatula and eat them. You repeat the process of dragging followed by scraping until you've eaten everything.
So that was my bit of learning something new for the day. Because the owner brought out a regular-sized serving for the second bowl, I had eaten two meals. At the end of it, I was thoroughly stuffed with delicious Japanese pancake-type concoctions.