Hiroshima’s take on Japan’s savory cake
To anyone familiar with the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki circuit, from Micchan to Okonomimura, you'll know nothing beats this famous food, particularly not the Kansai alternative (okay, I admit that may be up for debate). However, step outside of Hiroshima and it's not as easy to hunt down decent Hiroshima okonomiyaki. Step forward Jyaken Nou, a small okonomiyaki shop in Shibuya that serves delicious Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.
Many teppanyaki chains will let you prepare Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki yourself which, whilst not impossible in the age of the smartphone research, is not the easiest thing to do and far from ideal. Jyaken Nou serves up perfect okonomiyaki 'as you like' every single time – the fact that regular Hiroshima patrons flock to this restaurant is testament to this.
Compared to the Kansai version, Hiroshima okonomiyaki is noodle based, the concept being layered ingredients cooked to perfection and customised to your liking.
The standard option and a good introduction is Niku-tama-soba i.e. pork, egg and soba noodles from ¥820 (soba being exchangeable with udon across the menu). There onwards the combinations become increasingly complex and grandiose, comprising squid, prawn, mochi and Hiroshima oysters and a lot more, not to mention the option of custom toppings. Once your dish is prepared, don't forget to complete with mayonnaise and Otafuku okonomiyaki sauce.
For larger groups, events or parties, on the same floor there is larger space owned by Jyaken Nou, known as Nibankan, (二番館) available for bookings, so don't let the counter and small table environment deter you. Although this is definitely part of the charm – on my last visit there was a good bond between customers, some originally from Hiroshima itself, including the chef, originally from Funairi-machi in Naka ward, Hiroshima City.
If you're looking to re-discover the delight of Hiroshima okonomiyaki, or keen to see what the fuss is about for the first time, I recommend Jyaken Nou to all those looking for a Tokyo-based okonomiyaki experience.
Note: This story was originally posted on Stripes Japan Website, September 21, 2014.