If someone had asked me, before I came to Japan, what I thought Japanese food was....I'm pretty sure that I would have said: 1) rice 2) sushi and sashimi (raw fish) 3) ramen (the kind that comes in a cup for really cheap, especially if you buy a case of them). I'm pretty sure about this because I remember doing a unit on Japan with my 6th graders....what I learned came from the encyclopedias in the library and whatever else I could find. Someday, I might tell you about that week as it was one of THE funniest and funnest in my teaching career....especially since I was an ESL teacher on the Mexican border and most of my students couldn't completely comprehend the idea of the whole United States....let alone a small country that listened to some freaky sounding music and ate *"Oh My God!"* raw fish!!
Spend some time here and you will soon find out that those (#s 1, 2 and 3) are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If you come for a visit, prepare yourself for an incredible ride in the "food theme park of the orient".
When I first got here.....I was lonely...I couldn't understand crap...I was hot and sticky (it was August, my friends and just nasty)....I didn't really want to be here, but that damn pride of mine--that got me here in the first place--was bound and determined to make me stay....and like it, dammit!
The assistant manager of the language school I was working in really help me get acclimated to Nagasaki and introduced me to a place one evening (after drinking way too many really good beers) and it was the beginning of an incredibly long and wonderful relationship. I became a "regular", often stopping by on my way home from doing whatever it was that I used to do until the wee hours of the mornings with my friends. Many times, right before I was finished with work, I would call and order "my usual" and it would be ready for me to pick up as I walked past on my way home.
The place is little....and hasn't change a bit in the 17 1/2 years that I have been going there. Oh...the master might have re-done the toilet (from the squatter-type that most places still have to a true Western-sit-down-while-you-do-your-business one!) but other than that....nothing. It has an L-shaped counter (with the grill he uses for cooking) that will seat 7...a table by the window that seats 4 and another table for 2. That's it. No more. If you want a seat, you had better get there early (he opens for the dinner crowd at 5:30) or wait until you are on your way home from partying, but be prepared because his third rush (he is also busy for lunch!!) is between 1:00 and 2:30 in the morning!
Okonomiyaki is the main thing on the menu.
I went to Wikipedia to see what they had to say:
....and then put in on a very hot griddle to cook.
But the place that we go....Okonimimura...(~mura means "village"...so it's the "as you like it village") is based on the Hiroshima way of cooking....the ingredients are layered rather than mixed together. The layers are a crepe-like batter, cabbage (lots and lots of cabbage!!), pork, optional items (squid, octopus, cheese, etc.), noodles, topped with a fried egg and a generous dollop of okonomiyaki sauce...we Kuroiwa's tend to also like mayonnaise on ours. The cabbage used in this style is much, much more than other types. It starts out piled very high and is generally pushed down as the cabbage cooks.
And here he is creating these delicious dishes.....first he makes a thin layer of the crepe batter on the griddle and then piles on the cabbage...adding dried fish, tempura crunchies and other things the customer has requested.
While that layer is cooking, he cracks an egg for the "bottom" of the other layer. (And for those who know me.....just for the record....yes, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I WILL EAT A FRIED EGG! EVER!! .)
*Images which do not belong to me were borrowed from GoogleImages. Thank you.