Not Japanese Pizza! Okonomiyaki in Tsukishima

I often wondered why I hadn't eaten okonomiyaki in Sydney. There are plenty of delicious, authentic Japanese restaurants, but I would always leave having eaten sashimi, teriyaki chicken or gyoza. Then it struck me, often translated as "Japanese Pizza" or "Japanese Pancake" on English menus, it is not something I would choose to eat at a Japanese restaurant. If I wanted pizza I would go to the Italian place down the road. The literal translation, "things I like cooked", would be a much more appealing choice, and yummy things cooked it is; pork, cabbage, noodles, ham, caviar (tarako), and kimchi, mixed up with egg and batter and cooked on a grill in front of you to golden brown perfection. And not to forget the best part, topped with a sticky sweet sauce and Kyupie mayonnaise.

If I've got your attention, and you are dying to find some good Okonomiyaki in Tokyo, then there is a whole street of it waiting for you in the eastern Tokyo suburb of Tsukishima. Called Monja-Dori,  the long street is named after Okonomiyaki's popular, runnier cousin Monjayaki. Exiting from Tsukishima station you are inundated with endless choices of curtain covered, traditional eateries. As we walked down Monja-Dori, passing the salary men, families and couples sitting at their personal barbecues carefully cooking their dinner, we stumbled upon an old favourite of my friends, appropriately called Tsukushiya Monja (English menu available). You can find it towards the end of the street with the bright yellow and black curtains out the front.

Whilst my friend was dying for some monja-yaki with tarako, I couldn't go past the pork and kimchi okonomiyaki. Mixed up, fried and sauce-laden, it was cruchy on the outside, hot and soft on the inside. Of course, one is not enough, so we opted for Tsukushiya's famous "Special Modern-Yaki", special and modern due to the soba noodles mixed in with the batter, egg fried on one side and bacon on the other. Quite a culinary feat, which we left up to the well-practiced skills of our friendly waitress.

If you have visitor's to Tokyo, or just want to try something authentic and delicious, head on a train towards Yurakucho all the way to Tsukushima station. The 'things you like cooked' are hot, and the beer is cold!

Mixed up and ready to go

Monja-yaki - better than it looks, trust me

Add some bacon strips
And a squeeze of mayo

Tsukishima can be accessed from the Oedo and Yurakucho subway lines.
For Monja-Dori, take exit 7.

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emma said...

we ate so much okonomiyaki in tokyo (and kyoto too) - so delicious!!
we found a little place in shibuya and were lured inside at the promise of an english menu. we had no idea what they were going to serve up but were so happy when we saw it was okonomiyaki. deliciousssss!
now that we're back home in sydney we've sworn to try and make our own - just trying to track down the right sauce (got the mayo!) and i want some ricecake too. yummmmmm.

Sarah in Tokyo said...

Hi Emma. I'm so glad you got the chance to try okonomiyaki in Japan!
The most well known okonomiyaki sauce comes from the brand Otafuku. You will recognise it by the smily, chubby, face of the woman on the front. I'm sure a Japanese supermarket in Sydney would have some! Good luck with the home cooked recipe. I haven't yet tried it out myself.

Dad said...

I am going to make okonomiyaki in Avenue Rd Hunters Hill. It could become the Tsukishima of Sydney!

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