Sekka chefs Kat and Kim introduce us to Okonomiyaki at Jyuu.
AT Jyuu, okonomiyayi is the star of the restaurant, not just one item in a list on many on a food court menu. We love a good yaki (fried dish) and many a time have whipped one up at home from my step mom Akiko’s recipe, and we loved hearing about the restaurants in Japan that served this dish and nothing else. The owners of Okonomiyaki Jyuu are from Osaka, the spiritual home of the okonomiyaki, so it was a genuine piece that we were going to try. Located midway between Higashiyama, Annupuri and Niseko town, it’s kind of all by its lonesome, but this doesn’t seem to have slowed business – there are only a few tables spare when we arrive. Leaving our shoes in the rack and having a good laugh at trying to fit into the inside slippers (you’d think there’d be one pair of size 12 slippers somewhere in Japan!?) we plonk down at a table. The table has a flat grill in the center to keep the goodies warm and is set with essential okonomiyaki tools.
There’s an English version of the menu so no pantomime tonight. We are both immediately drawn to the beef tendon and kim chii combination so we know that’s going to feature soon in our future. The other we go for is the thinly sliced pork belly, but now we’re faced with another choice – the standard okonomiyaki base; negiyaki, a thinner base topped with spring onion, lemon and tempura flakes; or nariyaki, a thin base with garlic chive, lemon and tempura flakes. Decisions, decisions. In the end we go for the beef tendon on the negiyaki and the pork belly on the okonomiyaki. The order travels not far, in fact only two meters away to three huge flat grills where the magic is performed.
Sitting on one corner slowly bubbling away all night is a pot of the beef tendon, mmm!
We watch as the okonomiyaki batter is the first to be poured on to the grill, followed by the pork. Next to it the negi batter is poured on too before being topped with the tendon and kim chii, then a mountain of spring onion, pickled ginger and tempura flakes. These are left to cook as we sit and squirm in hunger with the delicious aromas wafting around and our food with in touching distance.
As soon as the okonomiyaki and negiyaki are half cooked, they’re flipped over. When they’re just about done, an egg is cracked onto the grill, and the okonomiyaki flipped over onto that. As this is done, our table grill is turned on to warm for the arrival of the treats. The okonomiyaki is topped with Japanese Worcester sauce, aonori, kewpie and bonito shavings so fine they dance and wave in the heat given off from the okonomiyaki with the still soft egg sitting below. The negiyaki is topped with a slice of lemon and both are brought to the table and placed on the grill. I was concerned that they might over cook on the grill but after the first bite there was no concern that they would be around long enough for that to happen. We tried the negiyaki first. The tempura flakes have been cooked in to a crispy golden crust covering it. The tendons are melt in the mouth and the kim chii is not so strong that it overpowers but just lets you know it’s there.
The okonomiyaki is a beast of a completely different kind, with its thick batter, Worcester and mayo, it’s so rich and so savoury it fills your mouth with umami.
We seem to enter a fugue state, all the conversation ends and only the need to consume another mouthful exists. All too quickly we are finished. Really, we should have known we were full but there was the possibility we were still hungry, so we opted to find out by ordering a mix okonomiyaki. This comes with pork, prawn and squid. It’s just as delicious as the first two, but it is only a few bites in when we realise in fact we are full… really full! It seems sad to leave something so delicious uneaten, so we give it our best shot.
All done and ready to explode we leave, already making plans for our next visit, and thinking about what flavors and styles to try. You know it’s good when your can’t eat any more, but you’re already planning to
For more great reviews and a whole lot more about food, check out Kat and Kim’s blog @ www.bigfoodsmallworld.blogspot.com