Monjayaki (or monja as it is commonly known) started life as a kids snack in the early 19th century, but it looked a lot different to how it looks today. In the beginning it resembled a rolled up crepe with some simple toppings. In the 20th century, the current day monjayaki was developed around the Tsukishima area of Tokyo. There is a street near Tsukishima station nicknamed Monja Dori or Monja Street (it's real name is Nishinaka Dori) that is lined with over 70 monjayaki restaurants. There is even a monjayaki souvenir and tourist office located at one end of the street.
I have a friend, Masa (who introduced me to sumo food, chanko nabe last year) who lives at Kachidoki, right next to Tsukishima, and I had been meaning to catch up with him for monjayaki for quite a while. Last weekend we finally organised to do it, so myself and two other friends from work caught the train to Tsukishima to meet Masa.
We set off down Monja Dori to the restaurant Masa had chosen (owned by the father of a friend of Masa's son).
Monjayaki restaurants, like most Osaka style okonomiyaki restaurants, have a hotplate in the middle of your table to cook your food. We let the experts (the restaurant staff) cook ours for us. The ingredients come to your table piled up in a bowl.
At first the meat is put onto the hotplate and cooked.
Next, the rest of the dry ingredients are added.
They are tossed around on the hotplate until partially cooked.
After that, a hole is created in the middle of it all,
into which the wet ingredients are poured.
This is then mixed around until the liquid starts to thicken.
At this point, it is then all mixed together.
The final product looks like this.......
You then scrape up a small bit of the monjayaki with small spatulas and enjoy! As the monjayaki stays on the hotplate, it thickens even more and the last part is the part that has stuck to the hotplate. It is nice and crispy and crunchy!
goes very well with this!
This night we also had some regular Osaka style okonomiyaki.
Tokyo is the gourmet capital of the world with 267 Michelin star restaurants (more than any other country), but monjayaki proves that gourmet doesn't have to look gourmet. While there may be no monjayaki restaurants with Michelin stars and it might not look the most appetising, it is truly unpretentious and delicious! I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a unique and different dining experience!
Thanks again for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading about monjayaki, and I hope you do try it when you have the chance! See you next time.