Okkon Pops Up in Oakland for Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is everywhere in Japan. It's one of those foods that appear in festivals and restaurants across all prefectures - making different styles of okonomiyaki.
What is okonomiyaki? Okonomiyaki, is a savory pancake consisting of an egg and flour batter, mixed with vegetables like cabbage and often ground meat. Okonimi translates to "your taste" or, "as you like" and yaki means "grill." So it's basically a grilled pancake with stuff you like in it – sounds like a win for anyone.
Okkon is an okonomiyaki pop-up comprised of Sachi and Satoshi Kamimae. They currently show up every other Wednesday at Temescal Brewing in Oakland, every Monday night at Ken-Ken Ramen in the Mission, SF and every Thursday night at Rintaro in San Francisco.
I had wanted to go to Okkon since I heard about it last year, but never made it across the bridge to indulge. So I was delighted to hear about their new pop-up location at Temescal Brewing. It was an opportunity to check out Temescal Brewing for the first time and have okonomiyaki for the first time in the U.S. this year.
The light, airy, and playful atmosphere of Temescal Brewing was a perfect venue for the Okkon pop-up.
Look for the Okkon sandwich board on the sidewalk in front of Temescal Brewing.
For $10, you get a basic pancake with two strips of pork belly. Okkon specializes in the most common type of okonomiyaki in Japan, the Kansai/Osaka style where the vegetables and eggs are mixed into a thick batter. You can add on toppings like mushroom, mentaiko (spicy cod roe) or shrimp for $2-3 each. The menu appears on their table and along the fence at the beer garden.
With tickets piling up as I approached the booth, Sachi was there with a big smile, taking orders and explaining the dish to people in line. I went basic and got two okonomiyaki with no toppings. It was a good move to show up early (around 6pm) because it took just about 20min for my order to arrive. At 7:30pm, the wait seemed much longer. Satoshi grills up each pancake on their teppan (grill)...
...while Sachi (with her sidekick/daughter) take the orders.
Here's a shot of the pork belly on top of the pancake.
Once he places the pork belly on the batter mixture, he covers it with a okonomiyaki lid. After each side is grilled, Satoshi places it in a bamboo boat and slathers their homemade okonomiyaki sauce (which tastes a little like sweet barbecue sauce) on it.
Don't forget the kewpie mayonnaise!
Dinner is served.
"I went to Kyoto last month and this okonomiyaki is better than the one I had there!" I heard a customer exclaim.
Each pancake is cut into eight pieces, making it easy to share. I like that the pancake was thick and jam-packed with springy, crunchy organic lettuce vegetables. The sticky yamaimo (mountain yam) in the batter, also adds umami and a pleasing texture (moist but not slimy). The pork belly added a little crisp underneath the sweet and savory sauces.
In addition to being a satisfying and solid okonomiyaki (like the ones I remember on the streets of Tokyo), I really like the casual setting of drinking beer alongside Okkon's offerings. I had a sour beer on the menu which complemented the rich okonomiyaki sauce flavor. The prices are also reasonable at $10 a pancake, which also reflects the true nature of okonomiyaki as an everyday food. Remember to bring cash though as they only take cash.
Thank you Sachi and Satoshi! See you in two weeks.
For up-to-date information on Okkon and their pop up locations check their website.
4115 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609