Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our Otafuku -Yaki Adventure

Otafuku

Yesterday, the JapanTown team was in the Fourth of July holiday weekend mood and craved something grilled, so we decided to pop into Otafuku (one of our second-time vendors at the Cool Japan festival) for a quick bite. Otafuku is a charming hole-in-the-wall that can easily be missed if not for its blooming banners and smiling babyface logo heralding the delicious goodies inside. There are only three main dishes on their menu: okonomiyaki (grilled cabbage pancake), yakisoba (fried noodles), and takoyaki (fried octopus balls) – all popular street foods that you’ll find in Japan. Otafuku also sells other snacks such as taiyaki, shaved ice, and ramune.

For those who have a hard time deciding, Otafuku offers combos of those three dishes. We each ended up ordering Combo B, okonomiyaki with six takoyaki. The takoyaki came piping hot, with slices of large and chewy octopus inside. Crispy on the outside and soft inside, the okonomiyaki, a thick pancake of cabbage and batter with bits of veggies and a meat of your choice, was everyone’s favorite because it tastes and smells like something our grandmas would make for us as an after-school snack; it's essentially home-cooked comfort food: informal and filling. Everything was served smothered with okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise, topped with handfuls of bonito flakes and a dash of seaweed seasoning, culminating into a perfect balance of savory aromas and flavors with each bite.

The okonomi sauce and bonito flakes are really what pulls the dish together. They use Otafuku brand okonomi sauce, which is like Worcestershire sauce but much sweeter and thicker that unifies and enhances the mix of flavors in the pancake. The bonito flakes, for such a paper thin, weightless ingredient, it is packed full of umani flavor, adding an sharp kick introduce the rest of your mouthful. Since there's nowhere to sit but a small bench outside the shop, you can enjoy your takoyaki or okonomiyaki on the go, or if the weather’s nice, you can take your meal to Thompson Square Park couple of blocks away, which is what we did.

Otafuku will be serving their famous okonomiyaki at the Cool Japan festival—but not the takoyaki. They were one of the most popular vendors last year, with people standing in line for more than a half hour to get a piece of their delicious okonomiyaki. "Okonomi" means "as you like it" because you can add whatever you like into the pancake, and everyone has a favorite version. Other people besides the JapanTown team also like Otafuku's version a lot, according to their consistent stellar reviews. See why they're so popular for yourself by visiting their shop on 9th Street or by checking them out at the festival on July 17th!

Hmm...so hard to choose!

We eventually chose Combo B: takoyaki with okonomiyaki

Takoyaki on the left, okonomiyaki on the right. All drenched generously in Otafuku okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and topped with bonito flakes.

The takoyaki: perfect round dough balls filled with octopus chunks

Takoyaki!

The okonomiyaki: bites of savory deliciousness


Otafuku
236 E. 9th St (between 2nd Ave & Stuyvesant St)
New York, NY 10003
map


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