Eating Monjayaki in Tokyo

Japanese food variety never fails to surprise me. Once I think I narrowed down the long list of things to taste something new immediately pops out. One of the last discoveries has been monjayaki.

Maybe some of you already have heard of the famous Japanese dish called okonomiyaki. Often referred to as “Japanese pizza” okonomiyaki is a salty pancake made of cabbage and batter made of flour, water and egg, okonomiyaki is then filled with fish, meat, noodles, cheese, egg and many other options or eaten plain topped with special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise and katsuobushi [bonito flakes].

As the name suggests monjayaki is a relative of okonomiyaki but they are not the same thing. The ingredients are pretty much the same but monjayaki batter is made by adding dashi broth to the usual okonomiyaki batter making the final result much runnier than okonomiyaki that instead become solid when cooked.

Okonomiyaki is said to be a Kansai invention, in particular the city of Osaka is very proud of its okonomiyaki. Monjayaki on the other hand is definitely a dish from Kanto, Tokyo region, and indeed in Tokyo you can taste delicious monjayaki. Monjayaki in Tokyo is so popular that an entire street full of monjayaki resturants can be found in Tsukishima, a man-made island in Tokyo bay. The street name is Nishinakadori but it is also well-known as Monjayaki Street.

There are many restaurants and it is difficult to choose, I was inspired by the red curtain at the entrance and the cute bunny. The restaurant we went to had a nostalgic feeling and I was really happy with my choice, also I like sitting on the floor in the traditional Japanese way, it makes the all experience more authentic and special to me.

The furniture was really basic, we got a pillow to sit on, a table with the frying surface and the spatula to cook the monjayaki ourselves.

Once we choose the kind of monjayaki we wanted the staff brought a bowl filled with all the ingredients and put it on the frying surface forming a ring, then it was up to us to start cooking.

After a while the staff came again and poured the batter in the middle of the ring. Our waitress was very nice and, since she probably sensed that we were rookies with monjayaki, she often came to our table to check if we were cooking it properly and to suggest us to dig in when our monjayaki was ready to be eaten. Once cooked monjayaki can be eaten directly from the frying surface or transferred to a small plate to let it cool down a bit before enjoying it topped with okonomiyaki sauce. いただきます![itadakimasu].

The taste is similar to okonomiyaki, also due to the sauce probably, but the texture completely different, monjayaki is soft and feels more like scrambled egg.

Personally I like more the texture of okonomiyaki which is crispier but as for the flavor monjayaki was a yummy discovery!

If you are in Tokyo don’t miss the monjayaki experience, Monjayaki Street is super easy to reach using the Oedo or the Yurakucho subway lines.

This is the restaurant me and Husband went to: Monja Fugetsu.

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