Thursday, July 23, 2009


I went on a date with someone I met on the internet once (and ONLY once). I wasn't looking for a date, but the girl seemed cool, so I decided to give my internet date a try. It was awkward and uncomfortable and we never hung out again, but I will always remember her as "The Girl Who Introduced Me To My Favorite Restaurant In New York City." The "restaurant," Otafuku, little more than a hole in the wall, is only large enough to accommodate two standing people ordering at a counter. The only seating is a bench outside the door, next to the long line. It's usually occupied. But it's the only place that I've ever found that serves Japanese comfort food. You can order any combination of Yakisoba (noodles), Okonomiyaki (a savory eggy pancake thing, a "Japanese Pizza" of sorts), Edamame (soy beans), or Takoyaki (little round doughy balls filled with octopus or cheese. If it didn't require a special grilling device, I'd make these every day). It's indescribably delicious food. Here's the recipe (from Japanese Food)for 6 Osaka-style okonomiyaki:

--2 cups All-Purpose Flour
--1 1/4 cup Dashi Soup Stock (or water)
--6 Eggs
--1 head of Cabbage (1 and 1/4 lb), chopped finely
--6 tbsp Green Onion, chopped
--2/3 cup Tenkasu (Tempura Flakes)
--Peanut Oil
--Topping (12-18 strips of thinly sliced Pork or Beef, or perhaps some Shrimp or good Bacon. Otafuku has a Corn and Scallion option)

--Ao-nori (Dried Green Seaweed Flakes)
--Okonomiyaki Sauce (My approximation: mix 1/4 cup Ketchup, 1 1/2 tbsp Worstershire Sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard, 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon Honey, 1-2 tablespoons Brown Sugar, perhaps some Sake or Mirin or Ground Ginger. Simmered in saucepan, then cooled)
--Mayonnaise (I wish I knew what made this mayonnaise different. It just is somewhat more flavorful than Hellman's)
--Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes)
--Beni-shoga (Pickled Red Ginger)

In a bowl, mix the flour with the soup stock. Refrigerate the batter for an hour. For one pancake: In a small bowl, mix about 1/2 cup of the batter, 1/4 pound of the chopped cabbage, 1 tablespoon of the chopped green onion and 2 tablespoons of the tempura flakes. Make a hole in the middle of the batter and add an egg. Mix the batter (at Otafuku, they use chopsticks to mix). Heat a skillet on high and add some peanut oil. Pour the batter into a pancake shape and cook 5-7 minutes. To the side of the pancake, cook your meat (or other choice of toppings). Place the topping on top of the pancake and flip the whole thing. Cook for 5-7 more minutes on the other side. Serve with Okonomiyaki sauce and a little mayonnaise (these sauces really round out the dish). If desired, sprinkle green seaweed flakes and bonito flakes over the top and place a little red ginger on the side.

1 comment:

Owlfarmer said...

I hope you folks don't mind, but I linked this wonderful blog to my "Cabinet of Wonders." I'm pretty sure blogging was invented for just this purpose--preserving heritage and stories--and yours is a terrific example of why it's such a good idea. I'm limited to putting occasional recipes into the Cabinet because I don't have time for yet another blog, but I'll be visiting here often for inspiration and great-sounding food.