o ko no mi ya ki

that's a lot of syllables, i know. i like the korean word, jun, better. ironic since brevity is not my strong suit. basically, it's a form of japanese street food in the form of a savory pancake cooked with various ingredients in the batter. this gives a good summary and a good how-to. if you're still in doubt, there are quite a few video tutorials out there, too. however, i threw all caution to the wind and did not find the above links until oh, now. i tried okonomiyaki for the first time oh, a few days ago.

matsato hu's, who i previously referred to in this blog as masago, girlfriend d is in town for the holidays. we always enjoy going out with them, so the boys figured we could go to dinner before their kinda-sorta-not-really-weekly bowling night. oh, and that's not his real full name, so don't bother googling, you stalkers. they suggested gaja moc in lomita for dinner.

so the food. each table has its own little teppan grill with overhead vent hood. too bad the hoods don't do much. our clothes smelled worse than they do after korean bbq. if you're still nervous even after all that internets research above, you can have the chef cook your chosen okonomiyaki with your selected ingredients in the kitchen. otherwise, you can cook it yourself at your table. since matsato hu is suprisingly fobulous and d lived in japan for awhile, they confidently took up the [blurry] spatulas for us.

it turns out the bear is the best pancake maker of us all. our first turned out kinda deformed. the bear flipped the second and made it much prettier. too bad i didn't get photos of that one. back to our first...

we ordered some other teppan (no benihana chef included, sorry) and izakaya small plates menu items, too (see the pretty, marbled meat above). more on the extensive menu later.

oops. we kind of hit the side of the grill while flipping it.

lotsa sauces.

we painted on the sweet, kind of teriyaki-like sauce, sprinkled some seaweed on top of that, then squeezed on some kewpie mayo, and finally sprinkled on bonito flakes (like a fish version of bacon bits but so much more melt-on-your-tongue and ethereal...not heavy at all).

one order makes two decent-sized pancakes, which we split into fourths. oh wait, i forgot to mention what kind we ordered. cheese + mochi. when these two get all melty and are fried up in batter...O.M.G. melty goodness. meeeeelty goodness, i say. and there's other standard stuff in the batter, too. julienned cabbage and veggies and such. whatever. the mochi and cheese made these.

what? you thought potato could live on pancakes alone? no way. we ordered a few other items from the a la carte, izakaya-style menu. they also have a rather extensive menu of japanese-style pastas, salads, etc., etc. the menu is huge and rather intimidating, despite almost every item being pictured.
  • you saw the meat above, to be grilled
  • karaage chicken (japanese-style deep fried chicken) with spicy mayo
  • fishcake with bacon and cheese. except this fishcake looked and felt like a marshmallow. it didn't taste like it, though, thank goodness.

  • pork + kimchee fried udon. we voted for the chef to cook it rather than attempting frying the noodles up ourselves on our mini teppan grill.
dessert is supposed to be good here, but we got full while waiting for the waitstaff to come take our dessert order. hmph. so we just paid and left.

calpico parfait? yes, please.

um, and one of each of the rest, too.
i must try the meron [sic] bar parfait to see
if it differs from the melon bars i grew up on.

they also serve ice cream, furuits [sic] plate, fruit-flavored soju, and other random desserts. i mean, there's a whole separate, multi-page book labeled "dessert menu." yeesh.

tasty? yes. fun? most definitely. smelly? oh yeah. now for the caveats--well, besides the whole smelly thing. this is street food. the prices aren't quite street. for the above mini portions of food and two pitchers of beer, we came out at about $20 per person. we were reasonably full, but would have been happier had we had dessert. plus the boys were saving room for the famous chili cheese fries at the bowling alley. not bad at all for a dinner out but not what you'd spend at, say, a taco truck, either. also, i've never had authentic okonomiyaki. in fact, i haven't had it anywhere else before, so i'm not sure if what we had was, like, totally excellent, dude. but like i said, it was fun and tasty!

completely unrelated but from the same night.

the bar/karaoke bar at the bowling alley was quite festive.

this group of people there
sang the best old school slow jams.
and they were dang good.
too intimidating.

i always wanted to buy these from somewhere
besides disneyland when i was young.

sad face. sad face. sad face.

so go try some melty, cheesy "damn good gook* food," to quote clint eastwood...today!

*i am indeed a gook, so don't get your panties all in a bunch.


  1. I want cheese + mochi. That sounds phenomenal!

  2. I think I definitely need to try out this place considering the close proximity. Really, I have no excuse.

  3. favorite part of this post was the disclaimer at the end.. HAHAHAHA!

  4. i can't get past the "cheese + mochi." [drooling]

  5. Dippin dots, or as Brent and I call it, "Freezer burn of the future."

  6. Mmmmmmm...sounds good. And I am praying you get your Dippin' Dots soon. I know some malls still have them...just can't remember which ones.

  7. love gaja--so much fun, we like to make one big pancake and see if we can flip all in once piece, usually breaks a little =)

  8. The first time D and I went to Gaja we totally didn't know what we were doing.

    We tried to make a giagantic pancake, flipped it over and it fell apart. Fail.

    Now we know better.

  9. please go back and have the cream puff eclair dessert and report back.

  10. I'm a dork, but I thought it was kind of cool that you could cook the food yourself. Cool or incredibly lazy on the restaurant's part. ;)


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