Abeno’s story began in 1993, when a couple of emigrés opened a restaurant in Colindale, North London: one from Japan, one from… East Yorkshire.
Together they opened the first authentic okonomiyaki restaurant in Europe, specialising in the savoury pancakes served up in the ‘kitchen of Japan’, Osaka.
In the intervening years, others have sprung up – notably Okan and Sho Foo Doh – but Abeno remains one of the few spots in London where you can have your pancake cooked up right in front of you on sizzling tabletop hotplates.
The dish has been evolving for over four centuries. In Hiroshima, ingredients are mixed together with the batter and fried up as one big patty, but in Osaka, ingredients are layered up instead. Those ingredients generally include chopped spring onions, ginger, cabbage and crispy tempura batter crumbs, but the rest is up to you: choose from pork, prawn, tofu, fillet steak; kimchi and seasonal mushrooms; noodles – heck, have bacon and cheese if you want. Om-soba variations are more of an omelette parcel, with steaming hot noodles packed inside. There’s really no better comfort food for a miserable, rainy day.
Alongside the main event come a chorus of other dishes to share: chicken karaage and pickled veg, gyoza dumplings and that divisive Japanese classic, natto (fermented soy beans). And the hot plates are put to use for dessert, too – hotto ke–ki, or hotcakes, sizzle away with toppings like apple compote & cinnamon, or home-made matcha ice cream.
Abeno is also home to one of the most extensive Japanese drink selections in the city – aside from loose leaf teas, sake and craft brews, they have Japanese rum and vodka, regional spirits like awamori from Okinawa, and even skin contact wine produced in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.
Seems like Japanese wine has just hit a new peak.
NOTE: Abeno is open for lunch and dinner, Monday – Saturday. You can make a booking on 02074053211, or find out more HERE.
Abeno | 47 Museum Street, London WC1A 1LY
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