Friday, August 28, 2015

Okonomiyaki - Ramen House Raijin

This multi-syllable treat was still audibly sizzling when the waiter placed it in front of me last night. I've heard people call it a "Japanese pizza" and sometimes "Japanese pancake," but I wouldn't label this unique dish with either of those terms. Okonomiyaki is its own entity--an amalgamation of cabbage, your choice of meat or seafood (I had mine with scallops!), green onions, some kind of batter and eggs, fried until golden-brown, then topped with dried fish flakes, pickled daikon, and a generous amount of thick soy-based sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. (Okonomiyaki actually varies by region. This is just a description of the version I had.) I wouldn't call it a pizza because you can't conveniently eat okonomiyaki with your hand. It would get messy, fall apart and make you look like a silly toddler void of table manners. "Pancake" might be a better term to describe okonomiyaki. But still, it's not quite a pancake. The okonomiyaki batter, although crispy and brown on the outside, remains slightly gooey on the inside, sort of like a crab cake. Then there's this little crunchiness from the shredded cabbage, plus the odd papery texture of the fish flakes. And the pickled daikon, besides adding an extra crunch, also beautifully brightens this otherwise heavy dish with its just-right acidity. Overall, it was really fun to eat, a satisfying food adventure indeed. 

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