Now this is a unique dish that our ravenous reporter Mr Sato just had to try!

After eating his way through so many restaurants and secret finds in Tokyo, there are very few things our reporter Mr Sato hasn’t tried. However, this week, he came across something he’d never heard of before –– tomato okomoniyaki.

▼ He immediately dropped everything and headed out to Kyochabana in Kichijoji to try it.

Kyochabana is a restaurant chain that originated in Kyoto in 1976, and it specialises in okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) and teppanyaki (food cooked on a hot plate). While it has a number of stores in the Kansai region, mainly in Kyoto, the two branches that used to exist in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward have since closed down, so when this branch in Kichijoji opened in April, it quickly become popular with local diners.

One of the dishes that diners have been raving about online is the Tomato Okonomiyaki, which Mr Sato ordered without hesitation as soon as he was seated. While he waited for his meal to be ready, he was able to read a bit about it, and he was pleasantly surprised to find it had received an award from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award for using pesticide-free and reduced-pesticide vegetables from local farmers.

Mr Sato’s meal was listed as “Pesticide-free Vegetable Tomato Okonomiyaki Pork Set” on the menu, and it cost 1,800 yen (US$12.85). The first thing that was served to him was the salad and soup, which was fresh and delicious.

Then, the next thing he received was…a gravy boat? Mr Sato’s puzzlement must’ve been evident on his face, as the waiter explained, “This will be the sauce for the okonomiyaki.”

This was already shaping up to be a new type of experience for Mr Sato, but things became even more interesting when he was given what looked to be okonomiyaki, on an iron plate.

Okonomiyaki is usually a casual affair, where diners cook for themselves, piling the ingredients onto a rectangular-shaped hot plate that’s around the same size as the table. Mr Sato felt that this was a much classier affair, with the waiter doing all the work for him, and even handing him a paper apron, which he was instructed to wear to protect his clothes from the sizzle that was about to occur.

▼ With his paper apron on, Mr Sato felt a nervous flutter of anticipation as the waiter carefully poured the sauce over the okonomiyaki.

Within seconds, the iron plate turned into a sizzling mix of meat and vegetables, sending wafts of steam into the air, tantalising his nostrils and obscuring his view.

After a few moments, the steam subsided and Mr Sato was able to see his dish in full view. The first thing that jumped out at him were all the tomatoes, which were far more plentiful than he’d anticipated.

Needless to say, the meal was piping hot, but Mr Sato could hardly wait to try those tomatoes. Picking one up with his chopsticks, he blew on it a few times to help cool it down, and then he placed it in his mouth, where the sweetness of it all washed over his taste buds.

The sauce was absolutely delicious, pairing perfectly with the freshly cooked tomatoes, but how would it taste with the okonomiyaki? Piling a good serving of it onto a plate, Mr Sato found that the pancake batter had been mixed with bits of cabbage, carrots, shiso (perilla), and tempura, essentially creating a binder for the sauce.

Unlike usual okonomiyaki, which holds together well, this one broke apart when Mr Sato went to eat it, but he figured that was likely due to the hot, saucy tomatoes. This made for a very unusual type of okonomiyaki, as he could hardly taste the savoury pancake beneath all the sauce-drenched vegetables.

It tasted more like a vegetable stew than an okonomiyaki, but hey, Mr Sato certainly wasn’t complaining. It was hot, hearty and full of flavour, plus with all the vegetables in the mix, he felt he was doing his body a favour too.

Whether you’re looking for an unusual okonomiyaki or a healthy feast of vegetables, this dish will definitely tick your boxes. If you’re looking to indulge your sweet-tooth, however, the okonomiyaki taiyaki at this store will do that for you!

Restaurant information
Kyochabana Cafe & Teppanyaki Dining Kyochabana Kichijoji / 京ちゃばな Cafe & 鉄板Dining 京ちゃばな吉祥寺店
Address: Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Kichijojihoncho2-16-12 Yokihi Kichijoji 2F 202
Open: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. (last order 10 p.m.)

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