Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Okonomiyaki: Finding Hiroshima in NYC
It had been 14 months since I'd eaten okonomiyaki, and I was craving it.
We were introduced to the dish during our vacation to Japan in 2009, and I ate it twice. The first time was in Kyoto, where I had what I later found out was Osaka-style okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is often described as a Japanese pancake, but the Osaka-style seems more like a Japanese omelet.
In the Hiroshima style, which I enjoyed much more, the ingredients are instead layered high atop cabbage and include noodles. It's delicious.
And, in New York, rare.
Okonomiyaki is served in several restaurants in New York, but from my internet research it seems to be almost exclusively the Osaka style. Finally I found Go Japanese Restaurant.
One of my best memories from the entire trip to Japan is when our friends Gail and Joe took us to an okonomiyaki restaurant they frequented in Hiroshima. The food was delicious, but half the fun was watching the cook combine the ingredients on the giant grill in front of you. No such luck here. A reviewer on Yelp said that way back when, Go was a "traditional Hiroshima okonomiyaki restaurant" with a "cook from Hiroshima who sat in the window and cooked on the spot." Now the okonomiyaki is at the bottom of the menu and cooked out of sight.
No matter. It was still tasty, even if I didn't get the show with my dinner. And, I'm proud to say, I ate the entire meal with chopsticks, no small feat since I'm pretty sure I still don't hold them correctly.
The meal was only $8.50 -- a terrific deal for such a large portion, especially in the student-and-tourist mecca of St. Marks Place in the East Village. I'll definitely be returning.