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4-5-6, Okonomiyaki Republic Building, Hiroshima

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japan-0491

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Okonomiyaki is a type of Omelette which (among others) is a staple of Hiroshima local cuisine. There’s actually a building dedicated to this dish, with every restaurant serving it. We sat down at a teppan (table / cooking plate) where an elegant, elder lady was cooking Okonomiyaki. A bit of dough is poured on the grill to make a thin “tortilla”. Cabbage is piled on top and depending on your taste, bacon, octopus and other toppings are added. Later eggs and sauce are thrown on top and the whole stack is cooked until it changes into a golden color and looses height. Some scallions and sauce give it taste and color. The whole stack is served on the grill and you eat it directly off the teppan using a spatula like device. This requires some power in your biceps and so it was no surprise to see that the old lady actually had quiet powerful arms and she gladly showed it off to any customer who’d ask. The Okonomiyaki is a great dish, the mix leads to a rich and complex meal, which makes it difficult to identify unique flavors. Even tough it looks like a snack it is a complete meal. Prices are cheap and it’s a great place to meet people. If they speak English…

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Okunoyu Ryokan, Kurokawa Onsen, Japan

Kaiseki

Kaiseki

Kaiseki

Kaiseki

Okunoyu Ryokan really is in the middle of nowhere in Japan. As always a traditional Kaiseki meal is served and this one was my best one in Japan. You could really taste that this Ryokan is adapting it’s food to the region its in. Located in a mountain valley (or the Japanese version of a mountain valley) it sits on a river and the outside baths (in Japan that implies mixed sex, no swimsuit) are very relaxing. The food was lovely. Mushrooms, freshwater fish, beef and other delicacies were served. The best dish by far, was raw horse meat with some soy and radish. The sweetness of the meat was fantastic. I think these place here really captured the essence of japanese fine dining. Subtle flavours, importance of balance in a dish, clean and simple presentation (yet still complicated in achieving it) really show off what this is all about. From a western perspective their are two major differences, Japanese like much more subtle flavours and they’re big on weird textures. Slimy, rubbery and gooey are common in japanese food and are a regular part of many menus. Once you figure this out, you can dine at par with western gourmet food.