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Okonomiyaki at Lemon-ya

Listed under Restaurants in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Photo of Okonomiyaki at Lemon-ya
  • Photo of Okonomiyaki at Lemon-ya
Photo of Okonomiyaki at Lemon-ya
Photo by flickr user EverJean
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In central Tokyo, nestled under the railway tracks that run along a slow, cherry tree lined stretch of the Kanda river sits the unassuming Lemon-ya Okonomiyaki restaurant. At night red-lanterns illuminate the queues outside and patient diners breathe deep the rich scents of homely, belly-tempting cooking.

Don’t come if you’re uncomfortable outside the rarified air of restaurants in upmarket Ginza or chic Omote-sando. Lemon-ya is a casual local joint with tumble-down charm. It is a far cry from the exquisitely refined, tiny portioned, cuisine that has made Japanese cooking a key player on the international scene - and all the better for it.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese filled pancake-omelette, cooked on a searing hot plate (teppan). There are several regional variations of the dish. Lemon-ya’s owner comes from Hiroshima. Signed photos of Hiroshima Carp baseball stars past and present plaster the walls, and his hometown pride extends to the food.

Unlike the equally renowned Kansai version which mixes all the ingredients together into a thick batter, Hiroshima okonomiyaki is layered. A thin disc of batter is piled high with soba or udon noodles, pork, seafood and cabbage, then covered with a fried egg and a final dollop of batter. To garnish, aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), mayonnaise, beni shoga (pickled ginger) and deliciously thick, sweet and tart okonomiyaki sauce are slathered over the top.

It is hearty, healthy and above all tasty fare. Perfect washed down with crisp, frosty Japanese beer. Aficionados enjoy eating the dish straight from the hot plate. An excellent way to make sure every bite is piping hot. Some restaurants allow diners to try their hand at making the dish themselves, with hot plates in the middle of each table.

Lemon-ya has an old school, downtown Tokyo vibe: small, cosy, lively and atmospheric. It is a place to drink and get drunk, to eat until you’ve had your fill, and to forget about standing on ceremony.

Divided into two sections, there is floor seating on a raised tatami platform and a line of chairs in front of the counter-length hot plate. Take a counter seat for a more up close and personal experience. The teppan warms not only the food, but also the soul.

Lemon-ya (れもん屋)

Fujimi 2-9-1

Chiyoda-ku

Tokyo

03-3234-0070

Nearest station: Iidabashi

Written by  Joseph.

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