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Okonomiyaki Restaurant: Kuraudo (蔵人)

Author: Michelle Seyller, Issue: March 2007, Topic: Restaurants, Location: Tsukuba City

An Introduction to okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

I was first introduced to okonomiyaki as a young child. My mother is an Osaka native and okonomiyaki has it roots in the Kansai area of Japan. Therefore, okonomiyaki was commonplace at our kitchen table. Before coming to Japan, I was convinced that my mother had created okonomiyaki as a means of making my brother and I eat vegetables.

お好み (okonomi) translates as “as you like it” and 焼き (yaki) means “grilled” so okonomiyaki is quite appropriately named as it truly is a dish that is “grilled as you like it.”

Okonomiyaki can be separated into 2 parts – the batter and the toppings. While some recipes may vary, the batter is usually made with flour, eggs and water. On the other hand, the toppings for okonomiyaki can include various meats and seafood, vegetables, sauces, and even the dreaded natto!

While okonomiyaki would seem like a simple dish to cook, there are 2 very distinct styles of cooking it – Kansai style (関西) and Hiroshima (広島) style. The Kansai area claims to be the origin of okonomiyaki and their style involves mixing all the desired ingredients into the batter, pouring it onto a grill and cooking it much like a pancake. Hiroshima style involves layering all the ingredients as well as adding a layer of noodles and a fried egg on top.

Whichever style sounds most appealing, you can experience both at one restaurant here in Tsukuba.

Kuraudo

蔵人  天久保2−10−19 029-858-3066 http://www.kuraudo.com/

If you are looking for a restaurant to indulge your okonomiyaki cravings, then Kuraudo is the place to go. My boyfriend and I discovered this restaurant on accident after we couldn’t get into El Torito on an especially busy night and whenever we’re craving okonomiyaki this is the place we head to.

Kuraudo is an excellent restaurant for okonomiyaki novices. They have both the Kansai and Hiroshima styles of okonomiyaki available. Recently, they have installed tables with flat grills in the center on which to keep your okonomiyaki warm while you eat. The cooks are excellent and I have never been disappointed with the okonomiyaki concoction I have chosen. Even the people I’ve seen with the natto okonomiyaki (納豆) seem to be enjoying it!

Kuraudo seems to be very popular with the university crowd and some nights the place is packed with students relaxing after a hard day at school. The restaurant also offers party sets/plans and will even close down the restaurant for large parties.

I would recommend going with a group when you eat okonomiyaki as, in my opinion, it is not meant for a solitary diner. Also okonomiyaki restaurants are usually loud, raucous places and Kuraudo is no exception. Do not expect a quiet dinner setting. Come with a group and you can try several different styles and flavors of okonomiyaki!

Kurado is located in Amakubo. It is at the intersection with Cocos and El Torito on the Higashi Odori. If you are coming from Tsukuba Center on the Higashi Odori then at this intersection, El Torito and Cocos should be on your right. Turn left at this light and the restaurant will be on your right. The restaurant has its own parking lot and ample parking.

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