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Not sure where to post this -- is there a restaurant in the area that makes authentic okonomiyaki (not a riff on it)? I came across this article with a link to a recipe, but it simply made me think I'd like to actually eat it/try it prepared authentically first before making it myself.

Calling Cizuka Seki....

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I'm pretty sure Kushi used to have it on occasion, but that would have been awhile ago. Also from at least a few years ago: the Snap! bubble tea house in Georgetown. The latter was not very good at all.

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Calling Cizuka Seki....

I heard from Cizuka, a graduate of the London School of Economics who doesn't know how to cut and paste a post. B)

Reprinted with her permission:

---

i fall into one of the clan of troglodytes -- i don't know how to do that thing where you cut the blog entry and repost it and then i write a response....but if i did, i would respond as follows:

as far as i'm aware, there are several korean restaurants (plus teaism) that offer okonomiyaki (also called monjayaki) on their menu. the last place i saw it was at an "izakaya" in centreville and it was truly, heart-breakingly inedible (i.e. heavy, raw in the center, greasy, and with essentially no ingredients that make up an okonomiyaki).

we don't offer it at izakaya seki because our kitchen is small and we don't have a griddle. The most satisfying suggestion i can offer is to make it yourself. it's very easy, super cheap, and makes for great party food. the principal ingredients can be found at Hana Market on U St. (if you live in DC) or H-Mart, Lotte, or some of the other well-stocked asian super markets. Best to use korean white cabbage instead of regular green cabbage. it is very tender and delicate so it cooks quickly. you can purchase thinly sliced pork belly but bacon works as well. otherwise, all you need is the batter, benishoga (pickled red ginger -- different from gari, which is the ginger that often accompanies sushi), aonori (blue seaweed), bonito shavings, kewpi mayonnaise, and bulldog brand okonomiyaki sauce. fry an egg on top and it's called "buta tama" (pork and egg). there are also a multitude of fillings that can be used -- squid and shrimp are classic.

Regardless of the ingredients, even if you mess up, it will likely still be tasty and there won't be the crushing disappointment of spending money on a shitty pancake (which is the worst feeling).

okonomiyaki just seems to be one of these dishes that is simple but extremely difficult for restaurants to execute well (like ramen!). this is why most okonomiyaki in japan are available only from okonomiyaki specialty restaurants.

i am sending you photos of a famous okonomiyaki/yakisoba shop in the asakusa neighborhood of tokyo called sometaro (http://www.sometaro.com/). it has been offering okonomiyaki for 67 years!

look at this...you probably weren't expecting this much information....please feel free to edit and delete.

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i am sending you photos of a famous okonomiyaki/yakisoba shop in the asakusa neighborhood of tokyo called sometaro (http://www.sometaro.com/). it has been offering okonomiyaki for 67 years!

This is the place I was first introduced to okonomiyaki (we were led there by a guide on a personal walking tour, no way in hell would we have found it on our own). Maybe this explains why I've been disappointed with pretty much every other attempt at it!

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This is the place I was first introduced to okonomiyaki (we were led there by a guide on a personal walking tour, no way in hell would we have found it on our own). Maybe this explains why I've been disappointed with pretty much every other attempt at it!

I am constantly amazed at our members.

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okonomiyaki just seems to be one of these dishes that is simple but extremely difficult for restaurants to execute well (like ramen!). this is why most okonomiyaki in japan are available only from okonomiyaki specialty restaurants.

One of the most fascinating things about eating in Japan is that most restaurants specialize in something and that is all they do.

If you want ramen you go to a ramen shop, the only other things they will usually serve are goyza. You may find shabu shabu and sukiyaki served together, but not always – my favorite shabu shabu place (in Kagurazaka) only serves that dish, my favorite restaurant for sukiyaki restaurant (two blocks removed from Kappabashi) from serves both but nothing else. This list could go on and on to include tempura, sushi, soba, oyakodon, unaju, yakitori and so forth.

I think that this is fundamentally a cultural issue; the Japanese tend to celebrate exceptionalism/perfection over creativity while in the US we tend to do just the opposite.

I believe that we are poorer for it.

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Was it good at Maneki Neko?

I'm certainly not an expert and haven't been to Teaism in Old Town (the only location with okonomiyaki, unless I'm mistaken), but Maneki Neko would be my choice for the dish. Maneki Neko is a solid little place that seems to fly under the radar (there's no thread here, for instance). It reminds me of what the Arlington Matuba was years ago when it was still good.

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One of the most fascinating things about eating in Japan is that most restaurants specialize in something and that is all they do......

I think that this is fundamentally a cultural issue; the Japanese tend to celebrate exceptionalism/perfection over creativity while in the US we tend to do just the opposite.

I believe that we are poorer for it.

You're perspective is interesting and I don't necessarily disagree with you. But I think another way of looking at it is just market economics at work -- there is an enormous population in Japan that dines out and there is a huge limitation on space for restaurant owners so their capacity to offer a larger menu is low. The more items on the menu, the more storage and refrigeration necessary. They're often restricted to focusing on one dish because their kitchen doesn't allow them to procure more than what they absolutely need. Fortunately, they can afford to serve just one dish because there's enough of a local population living in the area that they can rely on.....and then if they're any good, they become a destination place.

Also, rather than these specialized places existing because of the "celebration of exceptionalism/perfection", I think the population just has a longer history of being obsessed with the cult of restaurants and with food -- although, it's clear the cult is growing here too.... I'm suggesting all this since there are also plenty of other foodie countries (most obviously China, France, Italy, etc) that have restaurants and shops that have sustained long-term businesses by only serving one item on their menu.

Anyway, it would be nice if DC's market could expand in this way but it's still so young....

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Anyway, it would be nice if DC's market could expand in this way but it's still so young....

I don’t think that it is possible to expand that in this way. Not because the customer base is not there, I think that it is, but there is not a jurisdiction in the area that would let it happen. No, I do not mean that there is some nefarious conspiracy to prevent small businesses, but while each local government wants to tout how business friendly they are in fact they amount to a collection of odious bureaucracies that have to be waded through and waited on - how long has the City of Alexandria kept Balraj Bhasin spinning his wheels while trying to reopen Bombay Curry Company?

Even if someone wanted to open up a small six or eight seat shoe box of a restaurant the cost and delays in getting a kitchen sink installed would prevent (let alone a toilet) would make such a small restaurant cost prohibitive from the start - and that is if they could find such a small space. Could a Blue & White's open in Old Town today? I highly doubt it.

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I still think this boils down to population density, i.e., until Washington, DC builds "up," this won't happen.

A fine example is in Clarendon, whose mediocre restaurants are full, and I think it's because of the population density.

Okay, you might not initially equate "mediocre restaurants" with "specialty restaurants," but they're similar in that they both attract only a certain subset of the populace, albeit a completely different subset.

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Miso Cafe in Annandale also has an okonomiyaki on the menu. I've only had it there once, so I cannot speak to consistency, but it was very tasty when I had it, if a bit on the smaller side. I've had Okonomiyaki previously in Japan and in Hawaii. I would say the Miso version is lighter tasting/less dense than is probably traditional, but it really hit the spot and satisfied my craving from a flavor perspective. They also had takoyaki on the menu, but I did not try them.

One thing to keep in mind is that most okonomiyaki places have multiple varieties of okonomiyaki with different fillings. The few places serving it up here seem to only have one.

I'd be pretty happy to find a great okonomiyaki place here, but I'd also happily settle for someone doing teppanyaki garlic shrimp like they do at Chibo Okonomiyaki in Honolulu.

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If you don't want to buy a whole bottle of okonomiyaki, or tonkatsu as another close substitute, sauce, you can make your own with ketchup and worcestershire sauce. Not quite the same, but close enough, and our daughter loves to mix it up herself and taste until she gets it just right, which is actually different every time.

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If you don't want to buy a whole bottle of okonomiyaki, or tonkatsu as another close substitute, sauce, you can make your own with ketchup and worcestershire sauce. Not quite the same, but close enough, and our daughter loves to mix it up herself and taste until she gets it just right, which is actually different every time.

This could be true....that sauce, however, lasts forever...and will provide an excellent excuse to make yakisoba (which basically uses the same ingredients as okonomiyaki but sub batter for stir-fried with noodles), tonkatsu (panko breaded pork cutlets), and chicken katsu (same as pork but with chicken), and then by the time you've made all that, you'll want to make okonomiyaki again. so before you know it, you'll need another bottle!

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as far as i'm aware, there are several korean restaurants (plus teaism) that offer okonomiyaki (also called monjayaki) on their menu. the last place i saw it was at an "izakaya" in centreville and it was truly, heart-breakingly inedible (i.e. heavy, raw in the center, greasy, and with essentially no ingredients that make up an okonomiyaki).

I wish I had read this before eating the okonomiyaki at Tomo Sushi & Grill (is this the izakaya in Centreville you visited?)

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