Mama and I would like to go to certain neighborhood restaurants, usually small, with the traditional noren. Often they were the same places that made the Chahan (fried rice), or the Takoyaki (octopus balls) or the Ramen noodles. Small steamy places with the paper lanterns lighting their entrance.
Bicycles packed in rows outside against the front wall. You wave open the noren and are immediately filled with Japanese enka music or Guruupu Saunzu (60s Group Sounds Japanese rock music) that was faint before but now pronounced but not so loud so you can’t hear the person in front of you. And the loud sounds of Japanese businessmen letting loose after work with their bosses and Mothers with their children gossiping with other mothers, and the rumble and horn of the passing commuter trains. Japanese pancakes—Okonomiyaki, was something I craved every week, much to the dismay of Mama. But it was fairly easy to make, and a bit healthier than the American version because of it focus on vegetables, in the traditional version.
Flour and water mixed in a bowl. Lots of chopped cabbage, then perhaps some chopped onions, and ground pork or ground beef, not too much. Chopped scallions, green onions, perhaps some bean sprout. Put it on a grill and brown it on both sides.
You top it with a Nori furikake mix, and/or nori, and shaved katsuo (bonito flakes), and with okonomiyaki sauce (or worcestershire sauce) drizzled over it, and some like mayonnaise topped on it too. Graze with red ginger.
Now, there are hundreds of varieties. Hiroshima is credited with not just the cabbage innards, but mixed with fried noodles. One can also put sliced eggplant, various kinds of mushrooms, or fish or shellfish, etc. Perhaps scrambled egg, or a raw one for overeasy style. Sliced Chinese sausage? Bacon?