The Okonomiyaki Experience – Gaja in Lomita, CA

Last month when I was in LA, I went with an old high school friend and her husband to gorge on KBBQ. And about 8 hours later, an old friend from college took me to gorge on okonomiyaki (some call it a healthy Japanese cabbage pancake, er… yeah) and beer at Gaja. This is that latter pig-out in photos. Ugh, I must’ve gained 30 pounds that day but I want to go back immediately! Aiyah.

So first things first…. beer. Brooke made me try both draft fruit beers. What is a draft fruit beer? Why, here is a grapefruit one!

It’s so good. Well, okay. I must preface that by saying I love fruity beers. I don’t love them super sweet, but I do like sweet alcoholic beverages and beer is no exception. Brooke said no one has liked this (from the friends she brought to Gaja) but I loved it… It was like a light, not very hoppy beer with hints of grapefruit. It was hard to tell whether the grapefruit flavor rubbed off from the actual fruit in there or if they actually put in grapefruits during the making process.

Anyway. Next, food! We narrowed down the huge menu to okonomiyaki. Uh, hey, they also have monjyayaki. Modern mix! I think that’s what we did?

So, it comes in a bowl, uncooked with instructions.

Um… Okay. I followed the instructions as Brooke insisted on me cooking it by myself… while she snapped away. Pour down some oil onto the really hot griddle and cook the meat first.

Both sides of the meat… then push it aside. Well, I started the next step (laying down the noodles) but the server guy obviously saw my struggle and stepped in for a bit.

So, noodles down with the sauce (that little cup that looks like rice wine). Push that aside and lay down a quarter of the mix.

Lay down another quarter of the mix as another pancake… and watch it cook.

I took over again.

Lay noodles on top of the pancakes.

Then the meat on top of the noodles.

Pour a quarter of the mix (or half of the remaining mix) on top of one pancake.

Then the rest onto the other pancake.

Then flip!

Cook. And doneeee.

Well, then you decorate with your sauces – okonomiyaki sauce (otafuku, of course) and Japanese mayo (like Kewpie). This is Brooke’s favorite part.

Cut and eat!

When I finished, I got another beer (but only because Brooke insisted). Oy, was I full. Blueberry draught this time!

I really wanted a dessert parfait.

But I was toooooo fracking full. Next time. NEXT TIME!!!!!


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