5.145 Scallop Okonomiyaki

Cycle 5 – Item 145

30 (Fri) May 2014

Scallop Okonomiyaki


at Fukutaro

(Grand Front Osaka)

-Kita, Osaka, Japan-


Mission to Japan: Expert Consultation on Intersectoral Action on Health + Personal Deviation (Day 3)

In Osaka.  My first duty travel!  Dispatched to the World Health Organization Centre for Health Development (aka “WHO Kobe Centre” aka “WKC”), where I attended the Expert Consultation on Intersectoral Action on Health.  For GMTD purposes, the trip is all about food.  To maximize the opportunity, I’ll be staying in the country an extra couple days – a “personal deviation” as per WHO parlance – in the neighboring city of Osaka, where the food is reputed to be legendary.


After the consultation wrapped this afternoon, I hopped on a train/subway to Osaka, a quick 20-minute ride from Kobe.

Adjacent to Osaka Station is Grand Front Osaka, a department store, home to many restaurants.

I hadn’t planned on this personal deviation to Osaka being another installment of the Diet series (see previously ), but it may as well, given the the city’s rich and proud food culture.


Fukutaro was on MK’s brochure.

Fukutaro is a chain of Japanese restaurant-pubs.  Multiple locations in and around Osaka.  The house specialties are okonomiyaki and yakisoba, both available with a wide variety of meats (e.g., pork belly, beef) and/or seafoods (e.g., squid, scallop).

Okonomiyaki is one of Osaka’s signature dishes.

For each order, the batter is first poured onto the grill, followed by the shredded cabbage and seasonings, and then the main ingredient(s): such as beef tendon (left) or pork belly (right).
Once the bottom sets, the pancake is flipped over, and then again several times.
This one with scallops was mine.
When nearly done on both sides, the pancake is placed on top of a runny fried egg and allowed to meld.
Finally, the pancake is topped with worcestershire-based sauce + mayo (optional) + dried parsley (or some green herb).
The pancake is served on a slightly heated countertop grill directly in front of the customer.

When I got there, around 2015, the place was packed to capacity.  Being a drinking establishment, customers weren’t in a big hurry to eat and run, so I had to wait 30 minutes just to be seated.  With many others also patiently queued, it seemed worth the wait.

Hakusui Barley Shochu

An example of Japanese efficiency, they took my order in advance and timed the cooking so that the pancake was ready right as I took my seat.

Sadly, my first authentic okonomiyaki was disappointing.  The texture was unpleasantly wet and mushy.  Upon first bite, I thought that it hadn’t been fully cooked yet, requiring more time to finish on the grill.  But the cook had been checking for doneness by cutting tiny peekaboo incisions throughout the process, and he looked as though he’d made millions of them in his lifetime, so it didn’t appear to be an error.  Indeed, everyone else was digging in immediately.   Flavor, I don’t know, I couldn’t get past the texture.  I’ll have to try the dish somewhere else to determine whether this is generally how it’s supposed to be.

Item 1 – Scallop Okonomiyaki (1.5): even after 30 minutes on the grill, still gooey.
Item 2 – Kimuchi (2.0): the infamous kimuchi; okay, but too sweet, not much depth of flavor.
Item 3 – Yakisoba with Pork (1.5): as with the okonomiyaki, I found the worcestershire-based sauce to be a bit too tangy.

The rest of the food was also kinda meh.


After a long walk from the subway station to the hotel, I was hungry again.


Fortunately, the hotel is host to Honana, a teppan dining bar (more on the hotel tomorrow).

Another example of efficiency: the menu was an iPad application, in both Japanese and English, allowing customers to click on their choices, automatically relayed to the kitchen.  The order history and final bill could also be viewed on an on-going basis.

Item 4 – Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Pork (3.5): crisp veggies, juicy meat, expertly seasoned.
Item 5 – Ikakimuchi (2.5): nice squid, but the kimuchi was of the too-sweet-no-depth style as above, which I’m now pretty sure is simply how it’s done here.

BTW, I’m not ordering the kimuchi/kimchi at every meal because I’m one of those Koreans that has to have Korean food all the time.  I’m pleasantly surprised to find that it appears to be totally mainstream here – I’ve seen it on menus everywhere – and curious to see what it’s like.

Item 6 – Tamago (4.0): the best omelet that I’ve ever had.
Soft and moist on the inside, not wet and mushy like the okonomiyaki, in a light sweetish soy sauce, topped with shredded daikon radish for a touch of spice and mizuna for brightness and crisp – must try to replicate.

I sat there, munching on the goodies, sipping various Japanese whiskies, updating the blog, until they kicked me out at 03000.

(See also BOOZE)



Leave a Reply