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Japanese cuisine -- okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) 


Okonomiyaki restaurants (okonomiyaki-ya) serve large, savory pancakes made
with diced seafood, meat and vegetables. "Okonomiyaki" literally means "cook
what you like," and customers get to choose their own favorite ingredients
and then cook up their pancakes right at the table. Because the customers
choose their own ingredients, Japanese sometimes compare okonomiyaki to
pizza, although the similarity really ends there.

The okonomiyaki style of cooking originated in Osaka and continues to be
most popular there, although okonomiyaki-ya can be found throughout the
country. The restaurants are popular with students on a budget, since the
food is inexpensive, tasty, quite filling and fun to prepare.

The menu will list the main ingredients available; an order of okonomiyaki
consists of a bowl of pancake-like batter, plus a dish of diced vegetables
and the main ingredient, such as shrimp or pork. A regular order of shrimp
okonomiyaki is called ebi-ten (or ebi-tamayaki); some restaurants also serve
monja-yaki, which is a somewhat thinner and more watery pancake.

The waiter or waitress will come by to turn on the grill at your table and
brush the surface with oil; after that you're on your own. First mix
together all the ingredients, then pour the mixture onto the grill when it's
hot enough. You'll find small spatulas for flattening the pancake and
pushing it into shape, and a larger spatula for turning it over. Before and
after turning, you can brush the top of the pancake with Worcestershire
sauce, then you can sprinkle it with aonori (green seaweed powder) and
katsuo (dried bonito shavings) before eating it.

It takes a bit of experience to figure out when to flip the pancake and when
to take it off the grill. Okonomiyaki takes longer to cook than you might
expect, and the finished product doesn't hold together nearly as well as a
pancake. You might ask your waiter for advice, or else pay close attention
to the technique of the people at the next table.

Okonomiyaki-ya also serve yakisoba (fried Chinese noodles with vegetables),
as well as some egg-based dishes that are closer to omelettes than pancakes.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

OKONOMIYAKI SAMPLE MENU

Note: Uppercase letters represent long vowel sounds. (See pronunciation
guide below.)

-ten
     okonomiyaki-style (i.e. _ebi-ten: shrimp okonomiyaki) with ingredients
     listed below
-tama-yaki
     okonomiyaki-style (with egg) with ingredients listed below
-monja-yaki
     shitamachi (urban Tokyo) style okonomiyaki, slightly thinner than
     usual, with ingredients listed below
modan-yaki
     okonomiyaki with fried eggs
-yakisoba
     fried Chinese noodles (with okonomiyaki ingredients listed below)

   * asari -- clams
   * buta -- pork
   * ebi -- shrimp
   * gyU -- beef
   * hotate -- scallops
   * ika -- squid
   * kaki -- oysters (winter)
   * kOn -- corn
   * mikkusu -- mixed (some of the ingredients above)
   * nattO -- skicky, fermented soybeans
   * tako -- octopus
   * ton -- pork
   * yasai -- vegetables

Teppanyaki

   * teppanyaki -- grilled foods
   * -batA-yaki -- foods grilled in butter (some okonomiyaki items from
     above, plus those listed below)
   * enoki -- slender white mushrooms
   * geso -- squid tentacles
   * ika maru-yaki -- whole grilled squid
   * jaga(imo) -- potato
   * nasu -- eggplant
   * shiitake -- Japanese mushrooms
   * tOfu -- bean curd

Table Condiments

   * aonori -- dried seaweed powder
   * katsuo-bushi -- dried bonito flakes
   * sOsu -- Worcestershire-like sauce
        o amakuchi- -- sweet sauce
        o karakuchi- -- slightly spicy sauce
   * shOyu -- soy sauce
   * (beni) shOga -- pickled ginger (dyed red)




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