Feb 24 2014



I had been in Japan for 5 days now and one of the types of food that I had not yet had was Okonomiyaki, so when I got to Kyoto I asked our hotel to suggest a good Okonomiyaki restaurant to try. Our hotel recommended Kinoya which has been doing Okonomiyaki since 1948.
Okonomiyaki is especially popular in Kansai area (where the main city is Osaka) and Hiroshima, and both cities have their own take on this dish and cook it differently. It is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients, the main ones being dough (made out of egg, cabbage, welsh onion, red pickled ginger), your choice of filling (meat, fish etc) and topped with dried bonito (type of fish), green layer, and the original sauce. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning, "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked".
Kinoya was located just off the main shopping area of Kyoto and looking small and cute and had pictures of all the dishes in the windows, like many places in Japan do. Kinoya served the Osaka type of okonomiyaki (as opposed to the Hiroshima version). When we walked in, it was hot from all the cooking surfaces. You could either sit on Japanese style of seats and tables where you had to take off your shoes on the left hand side as you walked in, or in more western style seating that had a table, chairs around it. All the seating areas had their own huge grill covering most of the table where most of the cooking was done.
The menu was small and compact and had 1 page on okonomiyaki, where you could choose the pancake with either meat (pork, chicken) or different types of seafood or everything mixed together, 1 page on teppanyaki and 1 page on the fried noodle dishes. My boyfriend was craving pork so we chose an okonomiyaki with pork. I also wanted to try one of the fried noodle dishes which you also have in okonomiyaki restaurants and we had that with seafood, prawns, cuttlefish and squid. I was also feeling greedy and also ordered a miso flavour chicken yakitori (chicken skewer).
The chicken yakitori came first and I had not realized that we would have to cook our own chicken, usually in Japanese restaurants they bring you these already cooked, but cooking them was fun. The waitress (who spoke decent English) cooked it for us, seeing that we were foreigners and probably not as acquainted to this style of cooking than the Japanese, and she cooked the chicken, turning it around a few times and at the end adding some onions. She told us to eat the chicken with a little bit of mustard that she had brought along. The chicken was delicious, nice with the onions, nicer than the ready made yakitori skewers I have had in Japan.
At the same time as cooking the chicken the waitress gave me a medium size bowl of all the okonomiyaki ingredients inside and told me to mix it and start cooking. I mixed all the ingredients, which was a bit hard as the bownl was so full and I had to take time not to spill the content and after mixing it put it on the hot pan/ table in front of me. I had make the okonomiyaki quite wide and the waitress corrected me and made it much smaller in width. After a few minutes she turned it around and then after a few more she turned it around once more and then asked me to put on the special okonomiyaki sauce, some green herbs and some dried bonito. I loved how the okonomiyaki tasted, and I recommend you try it at least once, if you are in Japan, especially as it is so hard to find it in western Europe (there are only 2 Okonomiyaki restaurants in London).
At the same time as I was cooking the okonomiyaki, the waitress also started cooking the noddle dish. First she fried the seafood and then the noodles and added the okonomiyaki sauce as well as some other sauce. I enjoyed this less than the okonomiyake, as it just felt like something I have had before, fried noodles (also with the bonito flakes and the green herbs that I added) and seafood, but still very nice.
I have not tried any other okonomiyaki places in Kyoto, but this was a good one, if you are looking to sample this type of food. I also enjoyed this Kyoto version of okonomiyaki much more than the Hiroshima version that I had a few days later.
Date: 24/ 02/ 14
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Price for 2 people, no alcohol and no service charge: YEN 2,800 (around £17)

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Kinoya Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5