1167 Old Henderson Road
Summer weekends only – 12-3pm
We typically don’t need much persuasion to visit the treasure trove that is Tensuke Japanese Market, but with the lure of an okonomiyaki cart set up outside, we headed there at the earliest opportunity.
The menu here describes okonomiyaki as a Japanese style pancake pizza. Neither word quite does it justice. okonomi means ‘as you like it,’ and yaki means cooked or grilled. In dedicated okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan, you cook your own ‘pancake’ at the table on a teppan (grill). Here your okonomiyaki is cooked to order, either regular or cheese, with a choice of pork, shrimp or mix. The cheese in question is a mixture of mozzarella which is cooked into the okonomiyaki and Parmesan sprinkled on top. The chef was very enthusiastic about the cheese option, but in our opinion it didn’t add much, and next time we will stick to the more traditional option.
This is Osaka (or Kansai) style okonomiyaki which is traditionally made with shredded cabbage, nagaimo (grated mountain yam), flour, eggs, dashi, beni shõga (pickled ginger) and green onions. You can see the red flecks of the beni shõga in the picture below.
The cabbage batter mix is cooked on the grill, under a dome to make sure that it cooks through. Regular okonomiyaki is topped with okonomiyaki sauce (like a thicker sweeter Worcestershire sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed flakes) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). The cheese version came topped only with okonomiyaki sauce (another strike against it).
The toppings are a key part of the dish, adding extra dimensions of sweet, salty, savory and yes, fishy. It’s a wonderful melange of flavors. Tensuke have some tables and chairs set up outside under an overhang, so you can enjoy your okonomiyaki straight from the grill.
And, after that satisfying lunch, what better way to finish it off than an icy cold treat –
Japanese shaved ice (kakigõri) is a simple dessert consisting of a flavored syrup and sweetened condensed milk poured separately over a shaved ice that is a of a somewhat coarser texture than might be expected from a regular snow cone. We tried strawberry and melon, but next on the list is Hawaiian blue, which is apparently sweet plum flavor. The sweetened condensed milk seemed to be frozen as well and you get two distinctly different sweet notes from the milk and the syrup. Very refreshing.
Please note that this vendor is only open on summer weekends between 12pm – 3 or 4pm, and only when the weather is good.