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Monday, 19 February 2007

okonomi-yummy at abeno

I thought Chew had amazing telepathy when she texted me on Saturday to say she'd booked a table for us at Abeno, an okonomiyaki restaurant in Holborn. Then I remembered drunkenly telling her the night before how much I'd been craving 'one of those Japanese pancakey things.' Being far more cultured than I, Chew knew exactly where to get one.

At Abeno or its sister restaurant Abeno Too (Leicester Square), you can be fairly certain no angry chefs are spitting in your dinner: your meal is cooked on a hot plate at your table. This is highly educational -- it shows you just how simple this little plate of deliciousness is to prepare.

Every okonomiyake has a common base of egg, cabbage, flour, spring onions, ginger and tempura batter that you add your chosen flavour mix to (apparently the base differs regionally in Japan). I went for the Kiso Mix with seasonal mushrooms, lotus root and cheese (and boy was it okonomi-yummy). All the ingredients are whisked together and dumped on the hotplate, then cooked a la pancake and topped with mayo and okonomiyaki sauce. Yum scrum. The fishy types at our table added little tuna flakes to the top of their okonomiyake that reacted to the heat of the pancake by flitting around like butterflies. You could almost hear them scream.

Best of all was the ambience. Forget giving Graydon Carter's PA a happy ending for the best seat at Waverly Inn, there's nothing like the back table at Abeno (right by the toilets) to give you the feeling you've made it. If you're lucky, the air conditioning unit will be on the blink, dripping legionnaire's onto your plate. Oh stop with the glamour already! If for some crazy reason you'd prefer to pass on this opportunity, maybe ask for a front table when you book.

Oh, and don't miss the snow man for dessert... a gooey chocolate parcel with an ice-cream head and marzipan hat served with peaches and toffee.

Check out Abeno's site.

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