Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake where the word okonomi means “what you like” or “what you want” and yaki means “grilled” or “cooked” (Thanks Wikipedia!). Okonomi House, located just a three minutes’ walk from the Yonge & Bloor subway station in Toronto, has served different types of okonomiyaki for the past several decades, delighting the young and the old with this traditional Japanese dish.
My friend Tracy and I dined at Okonomi House for lunch just before going to the Panasonic Theatre to watch a musical. It is a casual restaurant that specializes in this Japanese dish. You can order the pancake with different toppings, such as beef, chicken, pork, vegetable, squid, shrimp, and more! The pancake itself is made with flour, eggs, milk, chopped cabbage, green onion, pickled ginger, and topped with sauce. It is also usually topped with dried seaweed flakes and bonito flakes. At this particular restaurant, you actually have to pay 50 cents extra for the seaweed flakes and bonito flakes to be added on — which is actually kind of a rip-off since the dish *should* already have this on it.
We chose the Seafood Deluxe topping which contains tiger shrimp, scallop, squid, and crab sticks. The serving was smaller than I thought and actually good for one person. In terms of sharing it though, it was a good idea since we also got to try the Yakisoba (Japanese noodles). I actually confused yakisoba with soba noodles (cold noodles in soy sauce). Instead, they are Japanese noodles that are stir-fried with chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegetables.
The Seafood Deluxe Okonomiyaki arrived on a hot plate and when we added the bonito flakes to it, the shavings waved in the air as if they were alive (this is one of the best parts about eating bonito flakes — it looks cool!). I really enjoyed it! There was a lot of seafood in the pancake and the sweet sauce on top mixed with the Japanese mayo tasted delicious. It’s best when served hot, so I gobbled up my portion pretty quickly. 0=)
The Yakisoba is similar to regular stir-fried noodles served at other Asian restaurants. The difference with this one is that the sauce that covered the thin ramen-like noodles was sweeter — kind of like oyster sauce. It was good! However, the chicken and beef pieces tasted rough to me. Again, this dish also is best when eaten hot. It was interesting that that was a mound of steamed rice to the side of the dish too. A bowl of nondescript miso soup accompanied this dish.
In the future, if I am craving Japanese okonomiyaki and in this area of the city, I will visit Okonomi House again. It’s great to try this restaurant at least once. Otherwise, there are plenty of other restaurants to visit around the area. 🙂