We were hot on the trail.
Cat and I just followed the tracks on the cold cement. It felt like being an advance – and hungry! – party. Cat and Kelvin are partial to ramen but they were game for a something new and different. So when I mentioned okonomiyaki, it didn’t take much to get them to try Dohtonbori Okonomiyaki, one of the newest restaurants in the metro. They opened just about four weeks ago.
At the entrance, there was a pretty greeter goddess. She led us inside then asked how many were in our party. We said three and she offered to seat us in a table. Before moving any further, Cat spotted the tatami room and inquired if we could take a spot there instead. The goddess obliged. She walked us over but just before letting us in, she asked us to take off our footwear, which we placed inside small lockers. She led us to a corner, gave us menus, and said that if we’ve decided on what to order, we could call on her or any of the staff.
The room was a smaller area; it only had four tables. Not many could be comfortable sitting in a pit. But it looked like a cool and warm spot. Also, it was peaceful there. Guess it was the ambience.
I found it easy to make up my mind about the food: cheese! The okonomiyaki type had Four Cheese and the pizza type had Quattro Formaggi. But, because we were here for actual okonomiyaki, I went with the latter. I noticed that the okonomiyaki choices also had beef and pork options but – strangely – no chicken. I had a side order of Chicken Shio. Cat had the Cheesy Pork while Kelvin had the Deluxe Okonomiyaki. Unfortunately, I never got to take a photo of their bowls or the finished products so you just have to take my word for it.
Our table had condiments. There were also a collection of instructions for how to cook okonomiyaki, pizza, and the other food offerings on the teppan, which is the special grill used by the restaurant.
From what I remember, the okonomiyaki ingredients had to be mixed first in the bowl about 6-7 times at least. Then pour decent amount of oil on the teppan, which has been left on since we were seated. I poured the mixture onto the teppan and shaped it as close to a circle as possible. Maybe you could shape yours into a star or a heart. Whatever you like! That would be a challenge though. The whole thing is cooked for 15 minutes; every five minutes, the okonomiyaki is flipped. It’s discouraged to mix or pat it once it’s on the teppan. When it’s cooked, you could top with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and/or yakisoba sauce, even with shredded nori or benito powder.
Personally, I liked the okonomiyaki sauce better than any of their other condiments. It tasted almost like barbeque sauce, just a notch lower in punching power.
Note: Dohtonbori is one of those rare restaurants that allow bottomless drinks to be shared. Also, the non-alcoholic drinks are bottomless. Only their alcoholic drinks come as singles and also far outnumber the non-alcoholic ones, as well as have more colorful options.
While I was rolling on the tatami because of the many anecdotes of Cat and Kelvin, we kept hearing the staff yell from the outside, “Pon Poko Pon!” Any of the staff that exited the tatami room would always exclaim it. And some other things also triggered the same response from the rest of the staff. We dismissed it as their version of a local mall chain’s chant and to keep the staff alert. But something about the words was familiar. When I got home, I found out why: it’s the sound of the drums, as used in Studio Ghibli’s Pom Poko.
Our meal was coming to a close but there was no dessert in sight. The ones I wanted also came as pancakes but I couldn’t handle any more fat disks of food. The okonomiyaki might look like a light and small meal but it’s a deceivingly filling food. It even got me to eat a lot of cabbage! I felt like rabbit.
2F Cullinan Prime Building, 8 Missouri Street, Greenhills, San Juan City