Andrew’s world in Japan

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki

Andrew
Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring th
creative process & connecting with other creative people.

What’s This Mini Spatula For

“Pick carefully” they said. I sat there, thinking to myself, what’s this about picking, let’s just order it all!

Often times and many places, eating is almost another form of play. How and what people eat speaks volumes. Often, the adaptation to local eating habits into my own has opened doors. I’ll never cease to be amazed (and annoyed) at how amazed Asians can proclaim to be at my ability to use chopsticks. Usually, I feel a bit bad only because parents point out how their culture is in decline because their child – usually sitting loathsomely right there in front of them – is not as skilled with chopsticks as this foreign dude. What can I say, I love to eat and Clipboarder.2015.11.04-012some things are just easier with the original tool designed to bring edible bites to your mouth.

A Kantō region specialty, ‘monja’ or monjayaki, happens to be one of these dishes. Not so familiar? No worries. The monja experience has some similarity to a fondue party. Special tool in hand, you dig in to a gooey substance that does not quite stand in the visually appealing line.

In the case of monja, the special tool is called a ‘hagashi.’ This 4 ½ inch stainless steel spatula can be purchased for between $ 5 to $ 10 USD. Most restaurants have their on hand. Don’t start trying to scrape the ice off your mini car window with it just yet. You’re gonna need this little guy for the multi step process of monjayaki consumption.

Clipboarder.2015.11.04-011

Monjayaki

The location of my adventure into this delicious goo is of course not in the more well known origin area Tsukishima (directly translated meaning ‘constructed island’). I feel like it may be necessary for a proper taste comparison, to someday visit the classic region, but for now, Asakusa will have to do. Of all the places I’ve dined in the wonderful Asakusa district, none have let me down.

Hopefully you’ve already had a couple bottles of fi ne local beer, shaking off those underlying reservations towards this unique delicacy. Pick up your hagashi and prepare your taste buds for this treat. Now, since this is your fi rst time, I am sure someone is there to help guide you. Maybe it’s the restaurant staff. Whoever, they will take the mixture of veg, dried seafood’s, meat, more veg and a soupy egg batter and begin the monja cooking process. Really, it cooks fast and you should already be pressing down a little section with your hagashi. Count to about ten and do a slight twist lift. Gooey monja goodness is now attached ready to be placed in mouth. Be a cautious at this stage. My cat tongue always ends up getting burned. I have yet to fi nd a solution for this. You might just be noticing the play that’s transpired. Whether with chopsticks, forks, your fi ngers or a hagashi, exactly like what people do with any instrument, play with your food.

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