The Pakkan Omuraisu isn’t just a meal, it’s a performance too!

In our “Hey, Japanese taxi driver” series, we ask Japan’s cabbies to take us to a great local restaurant. Usually, though, we narrow the candidates down a little by asking for their recommendation regarding a type of food that city is famous for, such as seafood in Otaru, takoyaki in Osaka, or bubuzuke in Kyoto.

But in our latest installment we’re headed to Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. While Okazaki has a cool castle and beautiful riverside park, it’s not really known for any type of food in particular, basically living in the culinary shadow of nearby Nagoya’s miso pork cutlets and tempura shrimp rice balls.

So as we slid into the back seat of a taxi outside Higashi Okazaki Station (pictured above) and asked just “Can you recommend a good restaurant around here?”, we were sort of braced for a long pause and eventual non-answer. To our pleasant surprise, though, not even a full second passed before the driver replied “Sure, Santa.”

To clarify, we weren’t headed to the North Pole, and even now, we’re not quite sure why the restaurant is called Santa (which they write さん太, different from the Christmas Santa’s name in Japanese, サンタ). It took us about 15 minutes to get there, and at first glance we thought it was somebody’s house, until we saw the sing out front and row of people waiting for a table.

Santa specializes in yoshoku (Western-inspired dishes), the taxi driver told us. “Their rice omelets are great,” he recommended. “The ones with cheese are really popular, but the normal version is really delicious too.”

Even through Santa is located in a residential area, the size of the lunch crowd as big enough that the staff told us there’d be a 50-minute wait to get in. Luckily, the actual wait turned out to be closer to be 20 minutes,

Looking at the menu, we spotted the camembert rice omelet the driver had told us about, but we wanted to know what Santa’s baseline rice omelet tastes like, so we opted for the Pakkan Rice Omelet Set, shown here, which the menu promises includes a “Pakkan performance.”

Pakkan” is the Japanese onomatopoeia for something splitting open, but we honestly had no idea what a “Pakkan performance” is, so we were just going to have to wait and see.

When the server brought our omuraisu to the table, it was immaculately beautiful. The egg was smooth and fluffy, without so much as single singed blemish to its golden surface. The rice, too, looked delicious. Really, there was only one problem: in a Japanese rice omelet, the rice is supposed to be inside the egg, so you can get both in the same bite, but Santa serves the egg entirely on top of the rice.

But as we were wondering how we were supposed to eat this unorthodoxly presented dish, our server produced a knife, sliced down the center of the egg, and…


The tender egg folded back on itself, creating a canary-colored canopy over the rice.

And yes, if you want to cut the egg and do the pakkan procedure yourself, you can.

Next we added the served-on-the-side sauce…

…and it was time to dig in!

As you can probably imagine, the single strongest sensation Santa’s rice omelet gives you is “creamy.” Stupendously creamy. The egg is right at that magical borderline between too soft and too firm, and our taste tester Haruka Takagi loved every bite.

▼ Haruka, in the process of loving one of those bites

The texture is so smooth and satisfying, it almost feels like eating a dish of ice cream. The sauce is amazing too, with meaty notes and a pleasantly mild tartness from the tomato.

Also included in Haruka’s 2,400-yen (US$18) lunch set was a salad, sweet potato croquette, drink, and dessert, which were also excellent.

Santa is the ort of restaurant that we’d never have stumble across on our own, especially since rice omelet’s weren’t even on our gastronomic radar when we arrived in Okazaki. But as we’ve come to learn, oftentimes the best part of asking Japan’s taxi drivers to take you to a good restaurant is when they take you someplace you weren’t expecting.

Restaurant information
Santa / さん太
Address: Aichi-ken, Okazaki-shi, Hanecho Unagi-ike 112-3
Open 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Wednesday-Friday), 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5:30-9 p.m.(Saturday, Sunday, holidays)
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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