Day 22: Okadaman for their Midtown debut.
Okadaman was Master Chef Okada Yasuhiko’s nickname in High School, and when he partnered with nephew Kosei, decided it was a fitting name for the pair’s first food truck. With a rainy forecast, I was surprised to have been met by a long line at close to 1, so I came back just before closing at 2:30 and received the only thing they had left, the original Okonomiyaki. It’s an Osaka-style pancake consisting of two flavors, original and seafood. My original included cabbage, red ginger, tempura bits, special batter, pork, Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, aonori, and bonito flakes. For bonito flake-newbies, they’re basically thinly shaved flakes of dried mackerel adding a hint of rich smoky flavor. They’re especially fun to watch when sprinkled atop a hot dish, as the steam causes them to curl and squirm wildly making them look alive! Check out this clip to see their truck as they wrap up their super successful debut.
The pancake was hefty, and resembled a cross between an omelet and a potato pancake. Drizzled in a zig-zag of creamy Japanese mayo and a sweet brown Okonomiyaki sauce and sprinkled with aonori (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes, it looked indulgent yet healthy. The red ginger tucked within gave it a lively aesthetic and flavor profile, and the tempura bits and cabbage combined for some textural crunch. The fried pork was tender (although a few pieces of chewy fat snuck in), and the batter holding it together was simultaneously crisp and glutinous, and, unlike an American pancake, heavy and rich. It had a profile familiar to my eyes, yet foreign to my tongue, and the flavors were unequivocally Japanese. It’s definitely a taste unfamiliar to the landscape of NYC food trucks, but this is what it’s ultimately about – bringing otherwise traditional brick and mortar fare to the streets. Thank you Yasuhiko-san and Kosei and Okadaman for my very first and very delicious Okonomiyaki!