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Osaka style "okonomiyaki" comes to Okinawa at "Yappa Suki ya nen"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-06-20

Although many foreigners think of Japanese cuisine as simply consisting of only fish and rice, they would be surprised at the amount of original foods and snacks the Japanese have developed over the years, which have a variety of tastes. One of these popular foods is "okonomiyaki." Dubbed as the "Japanese pancake" or "hotcake," it is similar in that it involves cooking a mixed batter of flour and eggs on a hot grill. Shaped like a pancake, "okonomiyaki" can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including pork, cabbage, and squid to name a few. It is then covered in a delicious sweet sauce and bonito fish shavings. It is a favorite of many Japanese people, and is also a favorite of many foreigners living in Japan. Many people have "okonomiyaki" parties in their own homes, which has created many different original versions. Going across Japan, there are even different styles of "okonomiyaki," that have become associated with that particular area.

One of the areas famous for very good "okonomiyaki" is Osaka. Recently Eiichi and Tomoko Yasaka, both from Osaka, opened an "okonomiyaki" restaurant in Gushikawa. The husband and wife partners had been to Okinawa before as tourists, and fell in love with the island. "I really like Okinawa's good weather, blue sky, and blue ocean," said Eiichi. "We always thought of moving to the country someday, and after thinking about it, we decided on Okinawa," he further explained. After thinking about possibly opening up a bakery, the former restaurant entrepreneurs gave up on the idea and decided to try their luck with "okonomiyaki." The couple opened "Yappa Suki ya nen" on April 5 of this year.

If you have never tried "okonomiyaki" before, you are in for a real treat, especially if you go to Eiichi and Tomoko's "Yappa Suki ya nen." The couple are very warm and friendly, and their "okonomiyaki" is delicious. The price is cheap, the "okonomiyaki" is very filling, and you will have a good time with your friends and family. Eiichi serves up his special "okomiyaki" in two sizes. You can get pork, squid, shrimp, beef, mochi cheese, or "goya" for 580 for regular size or 850 for the large size. The regular size is plenty for one person, and two can eat the large size. For a little more you can also order a mixed combination, their special "aji kuta," pork kimchee, or their original "pizza chou de" for a regular size at 680 or large for 980.

If you like Okinawan food, then you should definitely try the "aji kuta," which is an Okinawan version of "okonomiyaki." It is made with the vegetable "goya" and Okinawan canned pork (spam) inside. The "pizza chou de" is also excellent. Instead of the "okomiyaki" sauce on top, Eiichi replaces it with cheese and tomatoes giving it an interesting pizza flavor, but as the name implies in the Osaka dialect - it's not pizza! Eiichi recommends the pork "okonomiyaki," which he said is the most familiar type of "okonomiyaki," but all of the other versions are also extremely delicious. There is also three different types of yakisoba listed on the menu, which is fried soba noodles mixed with vegetables, sauce, and other items. The regular size mixed yaki soba is 650 and 950 for a large size. Spicy food lovers will love the kimchee style yaki soba. There are also many small appetizers, some of which include marinated tomatoes, salad, gyoza, and "mozuku." The prices average about 380 with some items costing a little less or a little more. The "cola chicken" is definitely worth a try. Cooked slowly in a special sauce, that includes cola, the chicken is very tender and tasty. Orion Draft beer costs 450, Ice tea is 150, cola is 150, and orange juice is also available for 150.

Upon ordering, Eiichi starts putting his cooking talents to work. The finished "okomiyaki" is then brought out on to a hot grill located on your table. You then simply cut it like a pizza pie, and eat it hot off the grill! In order to create an authentic "Osaka" taste Eiichi orders all the sauce and other ingredients straight from Osaka. "When customers tell me that it was good, it really makes me satisfied," said Eiichi.

The "Yappa Suki ya nen" restaurant was also built to enable access for wheel chairs, including the toilets, and the Yasakas have their menu available in Japanese Braille. They are now also translating their menu into English. "We wanted to create a "barrier free" environment not only for handicapped people, but also for everyone including foreigners. Everyone is welcome here. I hope people come to have fun and enjoy themselves here," explained Tomoko.

"Yappa Suki ya nen" is located in Gushikawa on Highway 330. Simply head straight on Gate 2 Street, and turn left at the Koza intersection. Continue heading towards Gushikawa. "Yappa Suki ya nen is located on the left, near "Makeman." It's a small place, so keep an eye out for the Esso Gas station on your right. "Yappa Suki ya nen" is directly across from it. Look for the lighted sign that says "Japanese Hotcake."

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