A Cook Your Own Okonomiyaki Restaurant in Asakusa, Japan
If you are familiar with Japanese foods, when you think of okonomiyaki, you may think of Kansai (Osaka in particular). You'd be right in thinking this since historically that’s where it was most prevalent. However, in recent times, okonomiyaki can be found everywhere inside and outside of Japan. Because of it’s spread, in fact, there are multiple cooking styles now.
The two styles of okonomiyaki are Osaka style and Hiroshima style. When I make okonomiyaki at home, I always make it Hiroshima-style because that way is my favorite. Hiroshima-style includes a layer of yakisoba noodles, which really gives it a nice extra texture in my opinion.
Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き in Japanese) roughly translates to “cooked as you like” so no matter which style you prefer, you’re never wrong! The beauty of this dish is that you can add whatever ingredients you like and remove what you don’t care for. It’s entirely up to your own taste preferences. This savory pancake is cooked as you like it.
Now, when you think of the Asakusa area of Tokyo, do you think of okonomiyaki? No? Me neither! I think of shrines and traditional Japan. If you’re visiting Asakusa for the shrines, be sure to save room for lunch because there is a delicious okonomiyaki restaurant there. You can have a good time making your own okonomiyaki at the table with your friends! Here is my review of Rokumonsen okonomiyaki restaurant in Asakusa, Japan.
The restaurant has a limited number of seats, so if you come at a busy time (or with a large number of people) you may need to put your name down on a list and wait a bit. Once you enter, you can see that each table is fitted with a teppan, or a hot steel plate, in the center of the table.
The menu has an extensive list of ingredients so you can choose what you like. Don’t worry; the menu has English translations. After choosing the types of okonomiyaki from the menu, the ingredients are brought out to the table. Everything is raw because it’s a cook your own food restaurant.
We started off ordering one appetizer of maguro (tuna) steak that came with bean sprouts. I thought it was to eat raw, but apparently I was mistaken. I guess when they give you a big grill on your table, they expect you to fry everything up!
This is their seafood okonomiyaki. Look at the variety of seafood that's in there! Shrimp, clams, scallops, octopus... And they’re nice, big pieces too! Yum.
You'll get your ingredients in a bowl. You need to mix them up yourself so they’re all covered in the okonomiyaki batter. It may look a bit unappetizing now, but it'll taste delicious once it's all cooked!
How to cook okonomiyaki:
Step 1: Mix everything up
This is what it looks like after it's mixed. The batter is on the bottom of the bowl, so you really need to scoop around to get the seafood distribute evenly through the batter. You don't want uneven okonomiyaki!
Step 2: Spread it on the grill
Next you're going to want to dump everything out onto the grill. We opted to make two smaller okonomiyaki rather than one giant one. There were four of us and it was easier to share the food that way. Again, you can cook it as you like so you could make 10 bite sized okonomiyaki if you really wanted to!
They include a spatula at the table that you're supposed to use to shape the okonomiyaki. Traditionally, they're supposed to be circles, but it’s easier said than done. In theory I guess you could make them into whatever shape you wanted, depending on how talented you area.
Step 3: Wait for them to cook
In my opinion, this is the hardest step. As soon as the batter hits the grill, it smells wonderful as everything is cooking together. Make sure to watch the food so it doesn’t burn. It’s difficult to say how long to cook it, since some people prefer a firm okonomiyaki and others prefer a bit of softness. I say as long as it’s golden brown, you’re golden.
Step 4: Flip then coat with sauce
After you're confident that your okonomiyaki has cooked for long enough, you can flip it. You're probably going to need two spatulas for this, especially if you’re making a giant okonomiyaki. Use one under each side and quickly flip it to make sure it doesn’t fall apart.
There are containers of sauce at the table that you can use to coat your okonomiyaki. You can freely use these so you can put as much as you like. I like a lot of sauce, so I recommend being liberal with your application!
Step 5: Add garnishing
After the sauce is applied, you can add mayonnaise and seaweed as the bottom is still cooking. Like the sauce, these are also located at your table, so you can apply as little or as much as you like. Again, I recommend being generous with the application for more complex flavors.
Try to make fancy patterns if you can! You could even write your name if you’re feeling extra fun.
Step 6: The final touch - bonito flakes
Now it's my favorite part: time to add the katsuo (bonito) flakes. These delicious fish flakes look like they’re dancing because of the heat. If you don’t take my advice for liberal application of the sauce and mayonnaise, please at least put a lot of katsuo flakes! We actually ended up using all of the flakes in the container at the table, so we had to ask the waitress to bring us more.
Step 7: Cut it up & serve it
Whether you’re sharing or not, use the spatula to cut up the okonomiyaki. It’ll help you eat it more easily. When you get it on your plate, this is where you can add even more toppings if you please! Or you can just dig right in. Be sure to eat it while it’s still hot. Itadakimasu~
[Name] Rokumonsen / 六文銭 支店
[Address] Tokyo, Taito-ku, Asakusa, 1 Chome−8−4 111-0032 / 東京都台東区浅草1-8-4
[Station] 4 minute walk from Asakusa Station
Prefer to learn how to make okonomiyaki with a local?
Here are some recommended cooking classes in Tokyo where you can learn to make okonomiyaki and other traditional Japanese foods with a local! Go to the grocery store, learn what ingredients to buy, and learn the proper techniques all with an English-speaking guide.