Okonomiyaki, effectively Japanese omelettes, are a favourite of ours since we discovered the Abeno restaurant chain in London some years ago – we try to get to Abeno Too near Leicester Square whenever we’re in town. But in Abeno, you sit around a central hibachi and the chefs prepare your okonomiyaki from the ingredients that you select, whereas here in Tokyo, you do it yourself.
Our apartment hosts recommended Sakura Tei, an okonomiyaki restaurant in Aoyama, our favourite part of Tokyo by far, so we jumped at the opportunity to try it. It was slightly difficult to find – Google placed it on an entirely different block – but find it we did, in the end. We joined the queue (by adding our names to a list – always watch what other people do in Tokyo, because it’s often the only clue you get as to what you should do youselves) and were shortly shown to our own hibachi.
Sakura Tei offers “all you can eat” and “all you can drink” options, but we decided to be a little more circumspect and ordered an “okonomiyaki set” each, along with a couple of beers. Gail offered to “be mum”, and we had a lot of fun mixing, pouring, poking and flipping our omelettes ourselves, while Japanese schoolkids, middle-aged men and drunk office workers around us all did the same – it was a great atmosphere, to be sure!
The omelettes themselves were good, but I guess when you do the cooking yourself the only thing that differentiates good food from great is the ingredients and with omelettes – well, there aren’t that many options to get it super-wrong (or super-right).
Going to Sakura Tei is more about the atmosphere, about the fun of cooking your own food, about the all-you-can-consume options if they appeal to you. The food is fine, but you’re never going to win Masterchef with an omelette!