I tend to get into food ruts. I’ll eat the same thing, over and over and over again. And the thing is, it doesn’t bore me. In fact, the freedom to consume my favourite foods for days in a row is one of the more thrilling parts of being a “grown up.” One of my (many) food obsessions in Tokyo, has definitely been takoyaki. Not even two weeks into our stay, me and Mike purposely went out to buy an electric takoyaki pan from that 12-story behemoth of a store that sells everything, Bic Camera. The pan was on sale for less than $10, so it was a no brainer. What Mike didn’t expect was that I would suggest takoyaki again and again and again after bringing the pan home.
Sounds a little strange, yes, especially considering that there is a Gindaco (takoyaki fast food chain) not even 10 minutes walking distance from our house (I use the term “house” loosely here—really, we live in a teeny-tiny condo). But, I’ll admit it, I’m pretty strange, especially when it comes to food. Don’t worry, we’ve consumed massive amounts of other food as well, but on the rare occasion that we do stay in to cook (and it is quite rare here, as there are just so many delicious restaurants to try out), it will be takoyaki. The octopus is cheap and plentiful, the negi (green onions) are even more piquant and addictive and I just love turning the balls of batter in their oil-slicked wells.
Mike, on the other hand, isn’t so impressed. Oh, he was game the first, say, three times. But when it got to the fifth, he suggested something different. “A burger, maybe,” was his request. I’m not one to deny food requests and so, I presented him…wait for it…the OKONOMIYAKI Burger. See, okonomiyaki is super similar to takoyaki, condiment wise. On top of takoyaki, you’ll generally find: Kewpie mayo, so-su (a thick Worcestershire-style sauce), anori flakes, and bonito flakes. And on top of okonomiyaki, you’ll find much the same.
It was brilliance, I tell you, BRILLIANCE! Who knew that burgers topped with mayo, worcestershire sauce, seaweed and bonito would be delicious?! It was kind of like eating a meat-only okonomiyaki, which, considering “okonomiyaki” translates to “what you like, fried” is exactly what Mike wanted.
Oh, and a note on the bread here in Japan. It’s top-notch. It’s magic. It’s every hyperbolic phrase you’ve ever heard. Soft and fluffy, with the right amount of mochi-mochi (chew), Japanese bread is just another food I just about overdose on regularly. Bonus points, a lot of the bread over here is cute. I’m talking animal-shaped buns cute. But that’s for another post. In the mean time, get your burgers on!
Okonomiyaki Burger Recipe
makes 12 mini burgers
- 1 lb ground beef
- salt and pepper
- 12 soft mini brioche buns (or buns of your choice)
- Kewpie mayo
- okonomiyaki sauce
- bonito flakes
- aonori flakes or seaweed strips
- tempura bits or rice krispies
Divide the beef into 12 equal portions and gently form into patties. Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add several patties, making sure not to over-crowd. Cook until deeply golden brown and charred, flipping once, about 3-4 minutes per side.
While the burgers are cooking, toast the buns. Assemble by placing the burgers on the bottom buns. Drizzle on the mayo and okonomiyaki sauce to taste and then top with bonito flakes, anori flakes, and tempura bits. Top with the top bun and enjoy!
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