Monjayaki (1 of 2)
Nelson @ Tsukishima: Jeff took us out to try a local specialty that originated in the neighbourhood of Tsukishima. It was a nice neighbourhood with many shops lining an inviting street, but Rino had done some research and led us to Noto, which was off the beaten path, but highly rated online. We were sent upstairs, where it seemed like we entered someone's home as we sat on the tatami of the large open room. The atmosphere was boisterous, intimate and casual, but also smokey due to lack of venting.
Monjayaki (or Monja) for short is similar in ingredients to Okonomiyaki in ingredients, but it is runnier and made at your table on an open grill.
Having an open flat grill at your table introduces a lot of dining options and we tried several different dishes. Of course, start with butter, because it
makes everything tastes better provides oil to transfer the heat better and prevent burning. We were making chicken thighs to start. Ok, not too exciting, but it gets more interesting.
The next bowl contains one of the more popular Monjayaki dishes, including such ingredients as beef, squid, shrimp, corn, mushrooms, noodles, bonito flakes, tempura bits, cabbage and a liquid with presumably flour. There is a certain technique to making this and we asked the wait staff to help us. A circle is formed with the main solid ingredients and then the liquid is poured in the middle. After it starts to solidify, the ingredients are all mixed together and forms a loose, runny pancake. Then you take your own metal spatula and scoop the pancake directly from the grill.
We found that the grill heated unevenly and the longer we left it on the grill, it would form a hard crust to provided texture. Otherwise I thought it tasted quite similar to Okonomiyaki, but without the sauces. And of course it was runnier, but it was a lot of fun scooping it up with your metal spatula to eat!
The next one is a beef udon that turned out much like the regular Chinese dish and included round eggy noodles, beef, bean sprouts, and pickled ginger. Simple, but it tasted good.
Tomorrow I'll post more Monjayaki, including one with cheese and also dessert...on a grill!
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