Have been planning to try this place for some time now. My sister makes great Okonomiyaki at home, so I was curious what a commercial one in Toronto would be like. I tried the one in Japan too long ago to remember, so I had to go with her - a japanese culture enthusiast.
A lonely corner house on a small street off of Bloor or Young. From the outside nothing special, even a bit cold and cheap-looking.
It is rather deceiving, because as soon as we entered we were greeted, seated and realized the restaurant is not as big as it looks. As a matter of fact if it would have been a longer space, as I suspected from the outside, it would have lost its feel and turned into a cold cafeteria.
intimate, herbaceous, a bit nutty
Inside it was all wood. The red paper lanterns and the red highlights add a warm vibe. Almost all walls were windows and most had their charming logo in the middle - a kids' face inside two round plates, with a tall circular red hat. There was a main bar-like area and the rest was short tables - blue tops. It was somehow cozy - the warm sunny spring weather definitely added.
grassy, bouquet of citrus
You are given a menu as well as acheck-in-the-box sheet, probably to make sure there are no miss-understandings but it starts feeling machine-like. Our waitress seemed more than capable to take down our order, judging by the way she answered our questions. We decided to share a noodle soup, a sunomono salad and go for 2 okonomiyaki plates - beef and pork.
So what is Okinomiyaki? A kind of Japanese pancake, made from cabbage, flour, egg, meat, hints of ginger and topped with special sauce. As we waited, we were impressed to see a girl next to us drinking Calpico juice - a white milk-based juice, favoured in Japan.
lovely complexity, acid balance
Our soup and salad came quickly. The noodle soup was light and simple. The sunomono was very nice - rice noodles, cucumber, shrimp, sesame seeds in a light vinaigrette. That is the way appetizers should be - light and small. I hate it when I get stuffed before the main dish. The okinomiyaki plates came, they were selves in small frying pans. As they came darker with dark okinomi yak sauce and a big spot of mayo, we realized we forgot to tick off the menu option saying - Dried Sea Weed and Bonito Flakes ($0.50) - a must.
The lady brought it as soon as we asked, no questions asked. We loaded them with these two on top. They were very good. The beef one, I was not too crazy about as the meat dried up the dish, while the pork one was perfect. They only part I was not crazy about was the ginger, but I am just not used to having it in there. I was kind of glad they did not give us forks instantly, once they noticed we are not japanese. It looks like a challenge to eat with chopsticks but it is really not that bad, plus it helps us savour the food.
I would definitely be back here. The food was too filling and the choices of okonimiyaki dishes is wide - chicken, bacon, vegetable, shrimp, scallop, squid, seafood deluxe..on top of that there is a specials part of the menu we did not even look at. And more importantly sake and japanese beers are offered!
Overall.. a light and refreshing Semillon