Warning: This post is not for the empty-stomached.
For long-time followers, you’ll know that I adore okonomiyaki. That’s right, the Japanese omelette, savoury pancake, and grilled parcel of joy, covered in mayo and Bulldog sauce (like BBQ/HB sauce but better). MmmMMmmm.
This low-key obsession began three years ago, when I experienced the best meal that I’ve ever had in my whole life. In Osaka, my friends and I stepped off our shinkansen journey in the greatest city of food for just one meal. And boy, was it the lunch of dreams.
I’m not even kidding, I still have dreams about this okonomiyaki. Sizzlingly hot, rich with bulldog sauce, and bursting at the seams with veggies, the modern style (egg + noodles rather than just egg) was a joy to my taste buds and I’ve been desperately searching for anything close to it in the UK ever since.
Whilst nothing has managed to top that memory so far, I have found Abeno, a fantastic London-based okonomiyaki restaurant which entered my life only a few, short months ago, and since then my Quality of Life Index rating has improved significantly. They have two restaurants, but I’ve only tried the one on Museum Road (near Tottenham Court Road and the British Museum) so far. (There is another branch in Soho.)
The name of this dish stems from ‘okonomi’ (how/what you like) + ‘yaki’ (grilled) – you can have it with a huge variety of ingredients. Abeno is great because it has a varied lunchtime set menu. The dinner menu has even more options but is a little pricier. They have some very tasty veggie dishes which I would recommend.
The lunch menu offers:
London Mix (Bacon, Pork, Salmon and Cheese)
Osaka Mix (Pork, Prawn and Kimuchi)
Spinach & Cheese (Leaf Spinach and Cheese)
Tokyo Mix (Pork, Prawn and Squid)
It comes with miso soup and a side dish, or rice and pickles. I can highly recommend the spinach and cheese and the Kiso Mix (seasonal mushrooms, lotus root, and cheese) from the a la carte menu. My friends have ordered the Osaka and Tokyo Mix options and I have to admit that they have looked delicious as well. Omu-soba and yaki-soba are also available on lunch set menus. Teppanyaki is also available for dinner, although okonomiyaki is their speciality, so I would go for that.
The only complaint that a few of my friends raised was that the portion sizes are small, so for that reason I would say that the lunch set menu is better value. Otherwise you can upgrade to super-deluxe size for about £3 extra, or my friends decided to order a side of home-made onigiri which were very delicious. You can also crack open a cold one, because the restaurant stocks authentic Japanese beer – Kirin Ichiban, Asahi, Sapporo, and even plum wine (my favourite) are on their drinks menu for an authentic izakaya experience. Though they’re expensive, it’s a fun treat. It might be cool to practice your Japanese there too, if you’re learning, since the staff all speak the language to each other, so you can order in Japanese.
So, there you have it! If you’re craving okonomiyaki, like I am, and you found cooking at home way too stressful, like I did, then you should definitely give Abeno a shot.
Naomi | 直美