Cooking on the table – Abena Too, LondonMarch 3, 2007
Steve the civil servant is an Asia-enthusiast with a specific penchant for most things Japanese. So he was keen to introduce us to a Japanese restaurant he’d been to with his American-Japanese girlfriend. Having thoroughly confused us with his description of the kind of food served at this place, all he had actually conveyed was that they cook the food on a hot plate on the table – Teppanyaki.
I love this interaction with your food. I was first introduced to Teppanyaki at Osaka restaurant in Amsterdam, and I still maintain that it was the best meal I have ever had. With a confident flourish throughout, our chef expertly prepared seven courses in front our party of five, plus others, on a huge hot plate, surrounded by a U-shaped table. They even authenticated us with kimonos to wear throughout and plied us with hardcore sake. It was delicate, delicious and unforgettable.
Okonomi-yaki ingredients on our table
The only thing Abena Too and Osaka really have in common is the hot plate and the Japanese food. This little food bar may not have had the sophisticated charm of Osaka but it was still highly entertaining and delicious. We chose Okonami-yaki, which is egg batter, rice and whatever filling you choose from the menu. I didn’t notice the rice when he was mixing it for us at the table, but it was definitely there giving the finished meal its body. There was a small amount of grated cheese, and as he was cooking it there, I started to think he was making me a cheese and bacon omelette!
Preparing the Okonomi-yaki
There was a subtle combination of flavours in ‘London mix’, which comprised cheese, bacon and salmon. That sounds like a combination that just won’t work, but I was pleasantly surprised that it did.
London Mix Okonomi-yaki, ready to eat
Topped with Japanese mayonnaise, brown sauce (!) and fish flakes that danced around on the top like they were still alive, does it look that appetising? I wasn’t sure, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I finished every last bit, including the fish flakes, yum!
©2007 Katheryn Rice