On a friday night, matt and I were looking for a casual place in covent garden to eat some really good food without having a wait for a long time. Impossible?
We ended up at a Japanese restaurant called Abeno-too. Abeno is located near the British Museum, while Abeno-too is near Covent Garden. Abeno/Abeno-too specializes in okonomiyaki, which is a savory pancake that's filled with a variety of meats and veggies. The restaurant is quite small, and much of the seating is communal around a large U-shaped counter where servers prepare the okonomiyaki in front of each party.
We ordered the pork and prawn okonomiyaki. Abeno describes okonomiyaka as a series of 7 stages that will bring you overall enlightenment. http://www.abeno.co.uk/about_okonomiyaki/index.html
I'll have to document our experience like so, as I was pretty enlightened!
1. The arrival: Everything that goes into the pancake arrives in a large mixing bowl to be prepared. this included cabbage, prawn, panko flour, and egg.
2. The mixing: Before I even had time to snap a picture, our server mixed the batter together. I was getting very excited!
3. The pouring: A little squeeze of oil, and the mixed batter is poured onto the hot grill.
4. The shaping: After the pancake is shaped, a lid is put over it to accelerate the cooking process. As the pancake is quite thick, the steam helps cook out the cabbage and prawns inside.
5. The cooking: As the pancake cooks, our pork is seared on the side. When I say pork, I mean several big fatty slabs of bacon. Weeeeee.
6. The flipping. After several minutes, the lid is lifted and the bacon is placed over the pancake. Then with a graceful flip, the pancake is turned over with bacon faced down to cook the other side. My excitement grows as I see the nice golden sear on the pancake and smell the smokiness of the bacon.
7. The decorating: This is clearly the most exciting step. After the pancake is done cooking, it's fliped back over so that the bacon is facing up. It's then topped with a variety of sauces includes mayonaise, japanese bbq sauce, seaweed flakes, and bonito flakes.
The finished product looks so beautiful you almost feel bad for cutting into it. Since the pancake is so thick, the filling remains so soft and savory. I especially loved the toppings like the seaweed and bonito flakes!
Another item we ordered was the om-soba, which is basically a noodle omlette. Say what?
On a seafood kick, we opted for the squid om-soba. Soba noodles are stir-fried with large chunks of squid and cabbage. It's then wrapped in a very thin egg and looks exactly like a burrito.
I think it goes without saying that this was delicious and has now raised the bar on all noodles. I also think it goes without saying that we were very enlightened by Abeno-too and will definitely go back!