Zagat: Bar Goto, Okiway Put a Twist on Tradition With Japanese Pancakes

Foodies are flipping for Japanese pancakes. Kelly Dobkin of Zagat visited two places that make the pancake—Bar Goto and Okiway. She filed this report for NY1.

Okonomiyaki is a delicious, savory Japanese pancake that's actually trending in New York City. Our first stop was at Bar Goto on the Lower East Side.

At Bar Goto, former Pegu Club bartender Kenta Goto pairs his craft cocktails with a menu of Japanese bar snacks, specializing in okonomiyaki. 

"Okonomiyaki is a savory cabbage pancake that comes with different toppings. I find that it’s a perfect food when you're hungover. It’s kind of like macaroni and cheese to the Japanese," says Goto.             

The Okonomiyaki here are served in individual cast-iron pans with pickled ginger and dried bonito flakes for garnish. In addition to traditional varieties, the team at Bar Goto gets creative with a few fusion options including a grilled cheese version.  

"We offer five different types of okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki grilled cheese version that comes with sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and three different cheeses," Goto says.

Over in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Okiway has devoted its entire concept to the savory Japanese pancake. 

"When I went to Japan 15 years ago, a friend of mine brought me to an okonomiyaki place and I loved the idea and the concept," says Okiway's Vincent Minchelli. 

At Okiway, they showcase the two traditional styles of the dish including Hiroshima-style, made from a nest of noodles, and an Osaka-style version made from cabbage. Like Bar Goto, they also offer fusion versions, here throwing Mexican ingredients into this traditional Asian dish.  

"We use chorizo in the Mexican pancake and top it with radish, cilantro crema, and chipotle mayonnaise. I want people to have different flavors, that’s very important to me," Minchelli says.

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