Traditional okonomiyaki in the heart of London...
Tens of metres from Leicester Square Underground station on Great Newport Street is Abeno Too. A traditional Japanese okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) restaurant in the heart of central London. Offering a lunch time menu for £13.95 it is the perfect location if you want something different for lunch.
*This translates as "grilled as you like it".
While they serve a variety of Japanese dishes at Abeno Too the Okonomiyaki is king. These are savoury pancakes made from a batter containing eggs, flour, and grated cabbage. You select the meat and vegetables you want added to the dish. These are then prepared in front of you on a griddle built into the table. I could try and describe this in flowery language but I feel it would be better just to show you:
I have tried both the traditional Tokyo mix and the London mix on my visits. The London mix is probably best for the newcomer who doesn't want too much seafood featuring bacon, pork, salmon and cheese. The Tokyo mix on the other hand is more traditional with pork, prawn and squid. Both allow you to experience the slow sizzling and sumptuous smells as your okonomiyaki cooks in front of you.
If you've not tried okonomoyaki before they will offer to top your freshly cooked pancake with mayonnaise, okonomi sauce and fish flakes. Personally I would always opt for all three though some may find the fish flakes are too strong a flavour for them. The sauce is traditionally applied in a spiral pattern like so:
During the winter months they sell a Japanese take on the hot toddy. A steaming mixture of ginger and Yuzu-shu, a sake made from a citrus fruit that tastes similar to both grapefruit and mandarin oranges, the Winter Toddy will keep you warm and keep your cold at bay. The hot ginger is particularly good at clearing blocked noses while the alcohol warms the throat as in any good hot toddy.
In warmer weather I would suggest trying the sparkling sake. Served cold with berries it is a sophisticated and enjoyable drink. If you are into your sake they have a good selection at a variety of price points. One of the best parts of ordering sake here is that they have a large box of different sake glasses for you to chose from which helps make the experience feel more personal:
This is now a regular lunchtime haunt for my colleagues and I. A restaurant that I would heartily recommend to anyone visiting London.