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Okonomiyaki

A pancake milestone.

imageMy cwazy friend from Hong Kong was in town and because I never believed her that she could actually show me some decent Okonomiyaki in Singapore and since during all of her prior visits we never managed to come here, she finally dragged me down to ‘Nanjya Monjya‘ by the river. The place was packed and even with our (rather short notice) reservation we only managed to get a seat outside which wasn’t too bad on a beautiful evening like today. The only unfortunate thing was, that outside, the Okonomiyaki were served on plates while inside they cook it just in front of you.

The pork one became my numero uno with its’ tasty belly slices, a nice and fluffy mix of dough and cabbage and I totally loved the extra pickles too. The kimchi version was less impressive, also nice but a bit bland and didn’t really get that kimchi punch going that I was hoping for, it was actually more like a vegetarian version of the first one. Both could have used another centimeter in thickness and diameter, but that said, they’re still the giants under the Singaporean okonomiyaki.

imageBefore the pancakes, pizzas, omelettes or whatever you want to call them, we also had a round of small dishes for starters. There was some weird dried and then grilled stingray carvings which sounded as interesting as they tasted oddly, way too fishy for me though.  Those were followed by a bunch of decent crispy chive gyoza and probably one of the best Miso Nasu (eggplant) I have ever had around here. It was spoon squeezing soft, nearly like caramelised and still wonderful savoury. Pretty wicked.

I had to hand it to her, this was a pretty awesome but next time I’ll try to get a seat inside, as even though it’s a scenic atmosphere out by the river, okonomiyaki still belong on a hot sizzling plate.

Nanjya Monjya Japanese Restaurant
390A Havelock Road
#01-03/04/05 Waterfront Plaza
Great Corpthorne Waterfront
Singapore 169664
Tel: +65 6738 7177
http://www.nanjya-monjya.com/

Pancake with a view.

imageI was back in Taipei and since besides beef noodles there are also countless Japanese restaurants down here I chose ‘Dohton Bori’ at the Att4fun mall in Xinyi for some proper ‘Okonomiyaki‘ tonight.

I was tempted by the kimchi okonomiyaki but decided to go for the original one with pork. It was pure torture watching them preparing it in front of me  for the next 15 minutes, during which my hunger grew bigger and bigger. When it was finally ready I started digging so fast that the first half disappeared in just a few seconds. It was great, the dough was fluffy and light and I particularly enjoyed the crunchy pickled ginger bits. Just the pork wasn’t nice at all and tasted like old grease so I picked it out and left most of it back on the side of my plate.

Despite the smelly clothes after and the little pork incident I actually quite enjoyed my pancake and the show effect of the live cooking paired with stunning views of the 101 across the street put ‘Dohton Bori’ on my “come back to” list.

Okonomi-Yaki Dohton Bori 道とん堀 / 道頓堀御好燒
5F ATT 4 FUN
12 Songshou Road 松壽路12
Xinyi District
Taipei
Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 7737 8885 ‎
http://www.dohtonbori.com/tw/

Sticky Notes.

imageLast time we didn’t realize that this was such a popular place and sadly had to watch the obviously smarter guests getting their grub on from the outside window. But not this time, I wasn’t super well prepared to be honest but at least managed to book on a Friday evening for two and was lucky enough that the nice booking lady squeezed us onto the bar so we didn’t strike out again. Yes baby, we were in.

Going through the pages of the menu I just kept on ordering more and more so that at the end I had totally forgotten where I had started or how many sticks we were going to get. Thankfully they first plate also brought back pieces of my memory and I was excited to begin in style with their special and my first ever ‘Fugu Sashimi‘ (puffer fish). It was pretty awesome, not necessarily a lot of taste of its’ own but the freshness and pleasant chunkiness of the fish made this a joy to eat. As this was so delicate they probably would’ve slapped me if I had asked for wasabi, but the side served ponzu-shoyu sauce (soya lemon) together with some green onion and other beautiful looking things did a much better job. This was a great kick off to our meal, just the skin was something I could’ve easily lived without as ugly and chewy as it was and since my heart was still beating (even though on a higher frequency) it was about time to bring on the sticks.

I’m gonna warn you right now, this is gonna be a long one.

imageBefore the first skewer, we had some ‘Tamanegi‘ coming, grilled onions, sharp and sweet at the same time with some garlic salt to dip in. I could’ve ordered that all night.

imageFinally the first stabbed piece of meat arrived and without planning it like that we started with the most decadent of choices, the twelve dollar ‘Jo Wa Gyu‘, top grade Japanese wagyu beef. Probably we should’ve had this a bit later down the track to build up the excitement but I didn’t mind this pure butter beefness that melted away in my mouth at all. The smallish portions made even this extremely fatty bits very enjoyable and so delicious that my friend didn’t even wait for me to take a picture before she ate hers in the blink of an eye.

imageThe ‘Shiso Buta Maki‘ (bacon and shiso leaf) was outstanding. I loved the shiso leaf, because it tastes like nothing else and come on, wrapped in bacon! Also the ‘Enoki Wa Gyu‘ (beef and enoki mushrooms) were great, the tangy charred thin wagyu wrapped around those delicious squeaky mushrooms were just a lovely combination. My smile grew wider, stick by stick.

imageUp next we had a selection of the ‘Sasami‘, some awesomely filled chicken fillets; one with wasabi that knocked our socks off and had some additional shiso leafs in it just for me and one with plum that was good too but extremely sour which made me pull some funny faces but therefore prevented it all of just being dry and boring chicken.

imageNow we were on a roll and had three sticks flying in at once: the ‘Gyu Tsukune‘ (spicy beef meatball) that was tasty but unfortunately had some unpleasant fat chunks in it, the absolute fabulous ‘Hatsu‘ (chicken hearts) that were firm but wonderful soft and tender with a hint of giblet gamey taste and last the ‘Sakana Bacon Maki‘ (bacon wrapped fish fillet) which wasn’t too bad but a bit of a weird combination. I’ve never been very big on surf & turf but must admit, that even that it wasn’t really for me, the saltiness of the bacon complimented the milky fish meat rather well.

imageThe ‘Buta Tsukune‘ garlic pork meatballs were amazing, lovely fine minced meat with a hint of garlic. The chicken meatball ‘Tsukune’ weren’t too bad either but the black sesame somehow gave it a bit of an odd texture and the leftover ‘Uzura Tamago‘ (quail eggs) were hard boiled, a tad dry and compared to what we had before rather boring.

imageMy friend remembered a previous visit and suggested the ‘Tontoro Ringo‘ (fatty pork jaw and apple) which looked a bit off-putting with the thick layers of fat on the stick and unfortunately also felt unpleasantly chunky and gelatinous in my mouth. Purely judged from the taste though, this was actually pretty good as the pork, the fat and the baked apple worked fantastically well together. I still had much stronger feelings about the consistency than about its’ flavours so I probably won’t order them again.

imageJust because I missed ‘Okonomiyaki‘ so much I had to have their same titled (‘Okonomi Yaki’) skewer and to be honest they did a fantastic job bringing the aromas of this usually fifteen minute pancake into a tiny little yaki ball. Pretty great.

imageWe were almost full but kept on going strong. I had another view through the menu deciding which of those skewers may be worthy enough to make me explode. For this very important task I chose the ‘Enoki Buta Maki‘ (bacon wrapped enoki mushroom) which were pretty great and the more than qualified ‘Gyu Maki Cheese‘, wonderful gooey and salty cheese, wrapped into thin and crispy charred beef. These were insanely good and definitely the wrong cheesy choice to finish a twenty ish little course dinner. I was so stuffed and yet so happy.

I smiled a lot, which is the perfect sign for a great dinner and even though I had brilliant company and quite a little bit of sake I’m pretty sure that the food had a great deal to do with it too. This was fun to eat, we got a part of the action watching the master working his magic on the grill and enjoyed the cozy yet busy atmosphere of this little shop at Cuppage Plaza. I so will be back here.

Kazu Sumiyaki Restaurant
5 Koek Road
#04-05 Cuppage Plaza
Singapore 228796
Tel: +65 6734 2492

OMO – Oh My Okonomiyaki!

1368881024354I wasn’t super hungry this evening because of my late and generous ‘Menya Musashi‘ lunch but still felt like a little something to close the day. I randomly went into the Shinagawa Front Building and when I realized that there is a ‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ branch located on the second floor I decided to have a slightly bigger dinner than anticipated as in Singapore this seems to be impossible to get.

I decided to go less traditional and ordered a ‘Kimchi & Pickle Starter‘ and the ‘Pork & Kimchi Okonomiyaki‘. As I was sitting at the bar I could follow the action as the chefs were entertainingly preparing mine and other dishes which was particularly important because a good and thick Okonomiyaki can take around 15-20 minutes.

It looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. The big chunks of kimchi cabbage had a nice bite and heat to them and were balanced just right with the Oko-dough. Best about this though was the thick slices of pork belly on top. Whilst preparing, I was a bit worried as the pork often doesn’t get enough time on the flame but here they took their time and waited until the fat melted away and the meat transformed into crispy salty goodness. All finished with salty butter and freshly chopped green onions on top. Simple food tweaked to greatness.

1368880368661-origThe ‘Kimchi & Pickle‘ starter upfront helped me through the waiting time with it’s great tastes and different textures. The pickled radish was crunchy and cooling and the the kimchi style cabbage had a very mild taste with only a little bit of spice to it. My favorite of all was what seemed to be some kind of kimchi cabbage jerky as it was stringy and quite hard to bite and by far the most spiciest of the trio.

‘Okonomiyaki Kiji’ is a famous brand from Osaka and they sure lived up to their name. I am pretty happy to have stumbled into this shop as I didn’t have any decent Okonomiyaki in years as it just seems impossible to get a remotely good one in Singapore.  I would do it again and again and again.

http://www.o-kizi.jp/

Okonomiyaki Kiji お好み焼 きじ
Shinagawa Front Building 2F
108-0075 Konan
Minato-ku                              
Tokyo 2-3-13                        
Japan                                        
Tel: +81 3 6712 0256