Start Gearing Up for Okonomiyaki Sunday


If you've had your fill of sushi and tempura — for the time being, at any rate — it's worth investigating the lesser-known demigods in the pantheon of Japanese cuisine as served in the US. You could try donburi ("rice-bowl dish"). Or robata (grilled skewers). Or o-nigiri (stuffed riceballs).

Or try one of my personal favorites: the battered egg and cabbage-comprised entree known as "okonomiyaki" (literally, "grilled what-you-like"). Okonomiyaki are about as varied as omelettes are in the States, so you can't necessarily generalize, but in addition to egg and cabbage, they often tend to feature okonomiyaki sauce (a thicker, sweeter version of a steak sauce), seaweed flakes, fish flakes, another protein (seafood, pork) and Japanese mayo.

Midori's Floating World does a very passable and savory okonomiyaki on Sunday nights, for $9.95. It's served vegetarian (those who have had it with uncured bacon will miss the pork, but if you haven't, you won't). You can request a shrimp add-on for another $3.

The Floating World version looks absolutely gorgeous (the camera phone photo below doesn't do it justice), with vibrant green seaweed flakes dusting the top of the sauce-smeared pancake. When I've had the dish before, it was looser and less battered; the Floating World okonomiyaki is fairly hard to cut through with chopsticks, but the positive side effect is that bite-sized pieces tend to hold together fairly well.

And the taste? Well, there's a lot going on. It's despicable to say "you've just got to try it," but you do; between the sweet sauce, the cabbage, the sprouts, the mayo, the seaweed flakes and the pickled condiment in the center of the plate, you get a fireworks festival of flavors.

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