I never realised how much I love good okonomiyaki until I started hunting around for good places to eat near San Jose.
What is okonomiyaki? It’s sort of a Japanese pizza or pancake. It consists of chopped cabbage in a batter that is then ladled out onto a skillet and fried on either side until brown. Then it’s typically topped with Japanese kewpie mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce, a brown smokey sauce similar to katsu sauce. Some people will top the whole thing with bonito shavings and/or chopped scallions. It’s served hot and you cut it into wedges like a pizza to eat it.
The last time I had it was in NJ, at a place in the Mitsuwa Plaza, and it never occurred to me to look for it here until I stumbled across a couple postings on Chowhound about it.
And lo and behold… I have fallen back in love with okonomiyaki and have eaten it at 3 places in the past month or so! Where or where can I get this heavenly food, you ask? Well, let me where where I’ve been so far in the bay area. I’m no expert, really.
Mifune-Don, SF Japantown
This is my favourite so far. It’s light and airy and they add just the right amount of sauces on top so it’s not overpowering. Plus, they add a LOT of shaved bonito (see photo) and serve it on a hot stone plate that keeps it crispy and warm.
Sushi Masa, San Jose
This one was good, but it was really thick and as a result, was a bit soggy in the middle, but crispy on the edges. Mmm… I liked the flavour of it, but I definitely prefer Mifune-Don’s okonomiyaki to this. If you’re in the south bay, though, it’s a good alternative if you’ve got a craving.
Namu stand, at the Ferry Building farmers market
I wanted to like this one, but it was only ok. It’s a Korean version, so they use kimchi as the cabbage, but they don’t chop it up, so it’s tough to cut into bite-size pieces with chopsticks. The edges were really crispy and the whole thing was quite thin and not dough-y. I’ve heard people call it tough, but I kinda liked the chewiness of it. Overall, though, I wouldn’t get it again. (Photo below)