When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
You like pancakes, right? Who doesn't like pancakes?! That's what we thought. No one. Everyone likes pancakes, but this love can be tested on a visit to Japan when confronted with a specialty called Okonomiyaki. Not only is it a quirky word that's fun to say, it's also a quirky meal that's fun to make...on a personal tabletop grill.
Okonomiyaki is a seafood pancake, prepared with batter mixed with a variety of seafood, which is then grilled right before you at a traditional okonomiyaki-specializing restaurant. There's a whole street in TokyoMonja-dori in Tsukishimadedicated to both this and the non-egg-based similar pancake called Monjayaki. For our visit, our sights were clearly set on a heaping helping of okonomiyaki with a tall, frosty glass of Kirin beer.
Taste: Once all steps have been completed (see gallery above) and you're sitting with a sizzling piece of fresh okonomiyaki in front of you, grab o-hashi (chopsticks) and go at it. Likely your first thought will be how savory it is, followed by a big bite of an ingredient like shrimp, scallop or squid. Finally, your tongue will catch the sweetness of the okonomiyaki sauce and will likely be a tad bit burnt. That's what the Kirin is for.
Price: About 850 JPY ($11) for a whole one in a restaurant.
Where to find it: Head to the Tsukishima neighborhood of Tokyo (we strolled there from the Shiodome area one evening) and Monja-dori is a major pedestrian-friendly street that's easy to find and well lit.
Pro Tip! If you're Korean or more familiar with Korean cuisine, you may recognize okonomiyaki as a cousin of the seafood pajon.
If you'd like to share some of your foreign grocery finds, we'd love love love to see them. Send 'em on over via email here and snack on, my friends.