Ahh, street food.  What is initially quite “fushigi” (mysterious) rapidly becomes mundane, upon the completion of multiple experimentations, at least for me.

I’ve discovered the secret to the taste of okonomiyaki, and it’s of course unimpressive and icky.  Basically, take any egg-and-starch combination you like (rice, flour, etc), and then smother it in mayonnaise and this peculiar soy-and-veggie-based dressing from Kagome.  Voila, that’s the taste.  You’ll swear you’re in Ueno Park or Osaka or wherever.

You could add some fish flakes (bonito) for real authenticity, but it’s not really necessary.  As for the cabbage inside, can you actually taste it when you’re eating okonomiyaki?  My guess is the answer is “no” — it’s all about the Kagome and mayo.

That said… I do like okonomiyaki.  It’s one of the few flour-based concoctions I will deign to eat here, because the total mass of flour used is relatively low, due to the vegetable and egg content.  Plus, the egg itself is very delicately added — not homogenously beaten-in as in American pancakes — which results in a layered-texture food.

So far, the best okonomiyaki I’ve had was at Ueno Park in Tokyo, right in front of the main shrine next to the water.  There’s a guy there slinging these things, looks like he’s been doing it the same way for 30 years, total assembly-line processes executed in a deliberate, zen-like fashion.  Occasionally sloppy but strangely accurate in portion control, nonetheless.

I stood in a line with about 20 other people, all of us united both in our hunger and in our wonderment at this man who could seemingly ignore the line-up of hungry masses desperate to give him their 200 yen, staying massively focused on his vocation, and lackadaisically answering his mobile at the same time.  Even the phone-inured Japanese in line with me were amused.

That okonomiyaki was greedily consumed along with a can of African Fire, the vending machine coffee that is allegedly “lightly sweetened” but is still way too sweet.  The perfect combination of too-sweet and too-salty, with a heavy dose of umami, very Japanese.  Quite enjoyable on that late November afternoon in the park.

This blog post was brought you by KIRIN FIRE CANNED COFFEE BEVERAGES.

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