Okonomiyaki 「お好み焼き」 is a well known dish which can be described as a cross between an omelette and a pancake, which to me is basically Japanese murtabak and is associated with the city of Hiroshima. I think I first came to know of it from watching Hanakimi[1].

And it was from watching Proposal Daisakusen that I learnt of the rivalry of sorts between Hiroshima and the Kansai[2] okonomiyaki. Anyway, after arriving back in Tōkyō, Kohei-san and I made our way to Sakura-tei, an okonomiyaki place near Harajuku. Tōkyō okonomiyaki is smaller apparently, but that wouldn’t have mattered as you will find out.

I was recommended Sakura-tei by another friend, actually. And it felt strange actually showing a native Kanto-ite the directions to this somewhat hidden gem of an eaterie. It was no secret if you have GPS. We arrived just after noon but way before the Sunday lunchtime crowd. Then again, perhaps we were lucky because of the rain. The table sat two and had a hot plate. At the side of the table was what looked like a dog bed but was a receptacle to keep your bags in. Gomen, gomen.

They do a variety of okonomiyaki and monjayaki (a runnier version of okono) priced at about 1000-ish 円 per dish. We were in luck as they had a 1200円 all-you-can-eat (but within 90 minutes) option which we chose. The fillings available ranged from the standard fare (beef, sakura ebi, chicken) to the slightly far out ones (nattō, cheese, kimchi, curry). These were smaller than the a la carte okono but since we were gonna make more than one, we were ready to get stuffed.

So, how do you go about enjoying okonomiyaki at such an eaterie? Check the following vid out, onegaishimasu:

The offer comes with one drink (iced oolong tea was my drink of choice) and I’d say a great option to choose if you feel like trying out different flavours. Sakura-tei’s a bit off the beaten track (but most good eateries in this city are) but this is the best way to find out how to get there – a YouTube video!

3-20-1 Jingūmae
Tōkyō 150-0001
Opens every day 11AM – 11PM

After hitting Ochanomizu and Akiba, we headed to Ameya-yokochō in Ueno for dinner. It was kinda late and we chose a kamameshi restaurant that seems to be family run (there was a grandma-mother-daughter vibe) called Kamameshiharu Uenoten 「釜めし春 上野店」. This was one Japanese dish I haven’t heard of and I had to look it up later on Google after getting back to the hotel. Kamameshi 「釜飯」 literally means ‘kettle rice’ and has a poignant origin. The Great Kantō earthquake in 1923 saw communal eating of rice cooked in a metal pot (the kama) amongst the survivors. The rice is cooked with meat or veg, and is flavoured with shoyu, sake or mirin.

Kamameshiharu is a decent sized eaterie and it was pretty empty when we got there. There were the Western table/chair options or you could go to the back where they had Japanese-styled low tables. As we were the last customers of the day, I thought it’d be best to just sit at the usual tables to make things easier for them to clean up. I chose the kani kamameshi (crab) and they actually make it from scratch when you order. Whilst waiting I enjoyed my first ever hoji-cha, which is green tea made from roasted tea leaves, which has this somewhat roast-y nutty taste to it.

The order arrived after 15 minutes and at first I thought it was only a small serving, but the kama is actually quite deep. The kani was in the form of flesh of crab legs and I thought the serving was very generous. The rice was fluffy and had the lovely mixed essence of the shoyu and the crab.

I also tried some pickled daikon radishes (think Mugi of K-On!) – nah, not really for me. Heh. We were gently reminded that they were actually closed but to take our time[3]. I can’t remember how much it came to about 3000円 thereabouts I think. I’d defo wanna come back but at an earlier time of the day.

4-9-2 Ueno
Tōkyō 110-0005
Opens every day 11AM – 9PM (last orders at 8:30PM)

[1]The original one with Horikita Maki. Yup, another J-dorama I’m afraid.
[2]Despite the Hiroshima link that I knew about, this dish is from Kansai. The Kansai version has the ingredient all mixed up as you would an omelette, whilst the Hiroshima version is layered.
[3]I just love how polite they were to us.