Okonomiyaki at Abeno Too – Covent Garden WC2

Turn away now if you’re tormented at the idea of having a big fat tasty Japanese pancake cooked right in front of you, ready to eat all steaming hot and covered in tuna flakes, kewpie mayo and Japanese trimmings…

We tried and loved okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) while on holiday in Japan last year (see Okonomiyaki in Japan blog). Somehow, I only recently heard about Abeno, okonomiyaki specialists in London, so was keen to visit.

At the original Abeno restaurant in Bloomsbury, you can book a table. Our visit last night was to Abeno Too on Great Newport Street (off Leicester Square) where there are no reservations. It’s a small restaurant and being a Saturday evening, we headed there early after a shopping spree.

Abeno Too in 43 seconds:

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Okonomiyaki menu at Abeno Too

We started with a couple of refreshing drinks: K had a kirin beer @ £4.75 while I had a summery miyako odori with berries @ £8.50.

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Kirin Ichiban , Miyako odori and kyo geiko

For starters we shared kyo geiko @ £8.50 (dried prune? not that exciting) and beef kara-age @ £13.80 – really tender (as in Granny’s-slow-cooked-beef-stew tender).

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Beef kara-age – crispy nuggets of organic fillet beef, with a garlic, ginger + soy seasoning

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Mio sake – light + refreshing at only 5% alcohol but not cheap @ £14.00 for a small bottle

On to the exciting bit. This restaurant specialises in okonomiyakis, so that’s what we ordered.

Okonomi-yakis are Japanese pancakes, and the ingredients vary based on the region of Japan. However they vary, the basic ingredients are cabbage, egg and dough with spring onions, ginger and bits of tempura batter (in Hiroshima for example, they include soba noodles).

K ordered an Osaka mix – pork, kimchi and prawn, and I ordered a Tokyo mix – pork, squid and prawn. And we went for the deluxe (regular) size @ £14.25 rather than the super deluxe (large) @ £16.25.

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Two okonomiyaki pancakes in the making – Tokyo mix left, Osaka mix right

Watch it cook:

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Steaming and a-sizzling – time to add bacon

The pancake is flipped over when it’s done on the first side, and sprinkled with Katsuobushi or bonito tuna flakes (so light, they dance in the steam) and aonori (powdered seaweed).

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Nearly ready…  topped with Kewpie mayonnaise + okonomi sauce before serving

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Inside Abeno Too

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Queueing outside Abeno Too  – a line had formed by the time we left at 7.30pm

The bill for this fairly quick meal for two, which included a couple of drinks each, came to £94.75 before service.

The verdict: Authentic Japanese experience, it’s not cheap but it’s something a bit different in London. And very tasty too. What’s not to enjoy about having a pancake cooked in front of you, containing a load of ingredients of your choice?

Abeno Too restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Okonomiyaki, Japanese
– Address: Abeno Too, 17-18 Great Newport Street, London
– Postcode: WC2H 7JE
– Nearest station: Leicester Square
– Website + menus: Abeno Too website
– Abeno photos: photos on flickr
– Location: Abeno Too map

Abeno Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Check out this ‘sakura-yaki’ special at Abeno in Bloomsbury, London:

Petal-shaped pancakes, a cherry blossom season special at Abeno, May 2017 
(a 20 second timelapse)

The five mini-pancakes are: beef, bacon, squid, prawn + mushroom, around a central egg yolk (pistil), with a kewpie-mayo ‘blossom’ outline, dusted in powdered seaweed and sprinkled in tuna flakes @ £20.80 (shared between two).

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Okonomiyaki savoury stuffed pancakes – a ‘must-try’ food in Japan

Savoury Japanese pancakes stuffed with cabbage, grilled as you like it

These cabbage-based savoury pancakes can be stuffed with anything you like, and there are regional variations. This post looks at two types of okonomi-yaki (yaki means grill) that we ate in Hiroshima and Osaka. If you haven’t tried them before, they’re an absolute must try in Japan. It’s not just the eating, it’s the whole experience of watching them being created on a grill in front of you, through to the final touches – sticky sauce topping and a sprinkling of nori (seaweed) or katsuobushi (bonito flakes, or dancing tuna flakes).

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Hiroshima-yaki
Okonomi-mura, a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki food theme park at 5-13 Shintenchi in Naka-ku, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.
LardButty rating: 3.5/5

We visited Okonomi-mura (“Okonomiyaki Village”) an okonomiyaki food theme park in Hiroshima, in the early hours of 23 December.  There are 25 food stalls on three floors, and most of the stalls have seating for about 10 people around the grill. Even at this time of night, they were all pretty busy.

We found two empty stools and chose some saké and pancakes off the menu (it contained some English translations, and there was a bit of pointing and smiling involved).

With Hiroshima-yaki, ingredients are layered rather than mixed together – see video:

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Preparing okonomiyaki at Okonomi-mura, Hiroshima – 6 second timelapse

And they’re stuffed with noodles (yakisoba or uden) rather than rice. So we tried one of each:

– mixed seafood special with udon noodles (below left)
– double pork double egg with yakisoba noodles (below right)

It’s a meal in itself, containing protein, carbs and loadsa veggies. At Okonomi-mura, they use their own type of sticky okonomiyaki sauce, specially created by Sun Foods. The sauce really finishes it off. These pancakes are sprinkled with nori (seaweed) and sesame seeds too. Yum.

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Hiroshima Okonomiyaki containing noodles – mixed seafood/udon (left), double pork/yakisoba (right)

More photos here>>>

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Osaka-yaki
Kiji restaurant at 1-1-90 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku | Umeda Sky Bldg. B1F Takimi Koji, Osaka 531-0076
LardButty rating: 5/5

Currently rated 3rd of all the restaurants in Osaka on Tripadvisor, Kiji restaurant in the basement of Umeda Sky Building is well worth a visit.

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At Kiji restaurant in Umeda Sky Building basement – Christmas dinner

We ate here after visiting the beautiful Himeji Castle and grounds on 25th December. It was the middle of the afternoon and we waited in a seated queue by the door for about ten minutes.

The restaurant is quite shabby-looking with walls covered in messages, memorabilia and paper currency from all over the world, along with Tripadvisor (and other) certificates of excellence. Here, we were first introduced to the highly practical Japanese storage benches, where your seat is a wooden box with a lid in which you can store your bags, coats, and umbrellas, and keep the limited floor space clear.

Once seated and storage sorted, we ordered two cold Suntory ‘the malts’ beers (a nice, refreshing malty lager, as the name suggests) and two okonomiyakis – K chose mixed meat and I chose a pork (bacon) + seafood.

Here in Osaka, the shredded cabbage, mixed veggies and protein were all mixed up (rather than layered). And contained rice (rather than noodles). And coated in a gorgeous sticky brown okonomiyaki sauce. Double yum! Ignoring the slightly shabby surroundings, these pancakes get 5/5 for taste.

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Osaka-yaki at Kiji – bacon + seafood and a mixed meat okonomiyaki

More photos here>>>

Two beers and two pancakes totalled 3,690 yen (about £25.00).

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Christmas dinner bill @ 3,690 yen

Romance aint dead

…the Ketchup says so
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It’s pancake weekend and Valentine’s day. So what better way to say it than by bringing on the cheese (and spinach)?

I made K a couple of types of savoury pancake (they were delicious, although the chef may not be very modest!): this recipe on Sainsbury’s website for gruyere cheese and spinach (with mushrooms and onions) pancakes, and smoked salmon and ricotta, alongside a big red ketchup heart.

How romantic.