|Okonomiyaki at URA, oh yeah!|
I was excited. Very excited. A Japanese pop-up pancake shop, serving homemade okonomiyaki, Osaka-style. It's happening.
I first heard of this venture by URA (28 Johnston St, Fitzroy) through word of mouth, via Simon's housemate, who has some kind of vague acquaintance with Matsu, the owner.
URA is a shop that offers Japanese clothing, toys and other treasures hand-picked from flea markets in Osaka and Kyoto. This pancake thing isn't part of the business - it's an occasional, casual affair, and it feels a bit like you're over at your friend's place on the weekend, while they make pancakes for you.
|The okonomiyaki menu at URA, Fitzroy.|
It's all very simple. You can get a basic vegetarian okonomiyaki with cabbage, spring onion, okra, and deep fried beancurd. If you want to jazz it up, you can request additional items such as rice cake or cheese.
So. Much. Excitement.
Simon and his housemates ordered the basic okonomiyaki, but I was feeling indulgent, and asked for cheese with mine, because, well, why the hell not?
|Tucking into the okonomiyaki.|
I'll tell you this. Matsu's okonomiyaki is quite substantial and unabashedly excellent. I am yet to visit Japan, let alone Osaka, so I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but it certainly tastes like it should be the real thing - this stuff is delicious. So much better than the typical ones you get from the dime-a-dozen takeaway shops dotted all over Melbourne. It's made to order, with incredibly fresh, chunky ingredients, cooked till it's just right and served immediately, piping hot.
|If this is what Osaka-style okonomiyaki is like, GIVE ME MORE.|
While the affable Matsu doesn't put a price on his okonomiyaki, there is a donation jar, so be generous and show your appreciation for his hospitality, and those scrumptious hunks of savoury Japanese pancake goodness. He will surely be delighted if you take the time to browse the store, too - there are some cute, charming, strange and quirky odds and ends worth exploring - we took home some toys (you can see one of the figurines in the first picture up there).
URA's pop-up pancake shop seems to be a semi-regular monthly occurrence. The next one is this very Sunday, 7th of July! Go between 11am to 4pm. If you want to be in the loop, follow URA on Facebook so you don't miss out (last I checked, it seems that he has even started making his own okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise!). Additionally, there isn't much space, and I have no idea how many pancakes Matsu can churn out a day, so depending on how busy it is, you may or may not get lucky. But you can always try, and you probably should.