I was on the train to London last night when I suddenly remembered seeing a YouTube vid of an okonomiyaki restaurant in London. After sending a quick message to said video author, I had the urge to head down to Charing Cross Road (thereabouts) for one.

The place is called Abeno Too, an offshoot of the main eatery called Abeno in Bloomsbury. “Born in Osaka, nurtured in London” was a tagline I noted on their website. Despite what I have heard about the origins of the place, the aforesaid tagline is a clue that this was a London establishment (started 24 years ago when Colindale had a Yaohan) by a Brit and a Kansai native. It claims to be the only okonomiyaki establishment in Europe, and I think I am pretty convinced that it is.

I arrived after 9PM after checking in at the hotel, which was pretty good as the main dinner crowd was just leaving in dribs and drabs. I only had to wait 5 minutes for my seat at the central counter and was attended by friendly waiting staff. I opted for the Sapporo Mix (prawns, scallops, salmon and corn) as almost everything else had butaniku (dodot!) in the mix. For drinks, I opted for the simple hōji-cha[1].

I was served by a friendly South Korean lass who is a student at Tokyo (prolly doing a year out in London), so we started chatting (partially in 日本語) whilst she prepared and cooked my okonomiyaki. I actually opted for the Modern-yaki version of my choice okono, which includes noodles. Now, the place prides itself in serving Kansai-styled okonomiyaki, and this Modern-yaki version is somewhat reminiscent of the Hiroshima style. Reminiscent, because the real Hiroshima version is a large heap of everything over a crêpe-like batter[2].

The last time I had a proper okono meal was in 2014, at a place that did an all-you-can-eat lunch deal. So, I was kinda excited to get stuck in. The okono was garnished with the real thing – Japanese mayo, otofuku sauce, aonori (dried seaweed) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Once done, the okono is left on the teppan, and you use the spatula to divide it into manageable portions on your plate. It was absolutely gorgeous. The shoga in the mix wasn’t too overpowering and the addition of the noodles just gave an added depth, in both the physical and taste sense. I took my time.

By the time she asked if I would like to have dessert, it was 30 minutes to closing time. I was eager to try the Choccie – a hot cake with loadsa chocolate and ice cream to boot. But I just didn’t feel 30 minutes was enough for her to prepare the dessert on the hot plate (which needed a once over after making my okono) and to tell you the truth, I was stuffed. I then chose the humble choco aisu which was gorgeous.

I’d strongly recommend Abeno Too (or Abeno, but you need to book for this one). I will return, with an emptier stomach next time.

Abeno Too
17-18 Great Newport St
London WC2H 7JE

[1]Roasted green tea.
[2]I haven’t tried it yet. Never been down in Hiroshima. One day.